Happy Spring Friends. Spring is positively my favorite time of the year. Every plant that went dormant in the winter begins to wake up. Throughout the winter season plants save their energy to make it through the long winter. They feed on the natural sugars that they produce and even send out sugars through their roots to other living organisms that need additional nourishment. As Spring awakens and temperatures begin to increase, plants start to shed their limbs that were damaged through weather, by other animals or because they lost their ability to produce. In time, limbs become less effective and strong and they start to dry up. Once a limb is no longer being fruitful for a tree, the limb either breaks off through natural causes or a human comes along and prunes it. Much like humans, trees need all their energy to continue to grow and produce new limbs and shoots as well as provide fruits of nourishment to the forest floor beneath them. As a human species, the likeness we share with flora and fauna is dynamic. All of us require a healthy environment free from excessive toxins (negativity), destructive weather (anger and negative emotion) and other beings who may pray on us when we become weak and vulnerable (think of how other people can negatively affect you when you are working to maintain your own strength and positivity). Much like trees, we need to care for ourselves and keep our own beings strong so we can provide support to others. Think of that beautiful tree that houses a multitude of insects, birds, small animals, and other living organisms that attach to the tree, be it a mushroom, or moss, etc. If the tree roots have become starved from lack of water or drowned out from flooding, the tree will become sick and defenseless thus no longer being able to provide a healthy refuge for other life.
When we allow ourselves to “prune” our diseased and unhealthy “limbs”, we give our beings permission to focus our energy on creating NEW limbs which will allow us to become stronger. If a plant never sheds its damaged branches it will continue trying to push energy into areas that no longer can bear fruit. The longer the plant tries to push energy into weakened areas, the more the plant will eventually begin to wither away and die. WE NEED TO FOCUS OUR ENERGIES ON THINGS THAT EDIFY US AND BUILD US UP. On occasion, people may find themselves in the wrong job, an unhappy relationship or following through with a major decision because changing gears mid-way through, and doing what they know is RIGHT and not what is “expected” is the less messy option. Imagine if the forests trees, plants and animals chose to stick with their diseased limbs and weak roots. Our forests would struggle and slowly die. Thankfully nature knows how to naturally care for itself. As humans, we try so hard to fix many things that might simply need to be pruned off! Remember, growth can only happen if YOU LET it happen. Creating new buds is a lot of hard work. As spring blooms around us, remember to take this time to let yourself “let go” of what is not nurturing your roots. Cultivating what is good and healthy is not always easy. Let Spring be a time for ourselves as a human forest to bloom, as we sprawl our roots supporting one another, and lifting each other up to the sunshine.
Let us focus on the positiveness of the human spirit. I would love to feature a new story each week on this website and on my public Facebook page of how the “Human Collective Family” has in some way helped you through a certain moment or situation in your life. Let me know about a time when people gathered in love to help YOU in some way. It can be as small as saying hello to you when you were having a rotten day. Let us break down the barriers of the human family and help REUNITE us through social media and not tear us down. You can also share a story about how you helped someone and the impact it made on both of your lives.
Send your stories to email@example.com. If you are comfortable having your name published let me know, pictures are also wonderful. Lets fill social media with love and remind one another that even with our differences, we are a human family. I look forward to your stories in my inbox! They can be a few sentences to a few pages.
I am so thankful that winter season is here. Winter tends to be the time we hunker down a little more, become a little more complacent, and “comfortable”. This is not the time to be complacent, this winter is a season to let the negativity die off and begin cultivation for spring.
We had such a great and very busy fall, however I think I can speak for many of us in the fact that the election was overwhelming. I for one am not happy with the outcome, yet I am happy to be part of this American Family. When people ask who I voted for, my heart sinks. Typically I am proud to vote as a female American, and quite eager to do so. This year felt different, the hatred and slander that permeated our final presidential nominees election process was toxic. I kept reminding myself that #weallbleedred and this is politically driven and power driven and not truly a testament to the human spirit and human character. I wanted to remain optimistic, I tried to see the positive through each negative and slanderous moment that was casted from human to human. We had a woman run for president, and she fought a good fight. As one who focuses my life journey and purpose on actionable gratitude, love, and connecting the human family, I have felt parts of my soul rotting.
There will never be an apology that is acceptable if actions do not accompany spoken or written/typed words. We must remember that not only are the children of our human family listening and watching, but the child within us that still exists is listening and watching. As a human species, we are naturally pack oriented. Our “pack” might be our immediate family members, or our close friends, community, or just the need to be a part of a social group. We as a human family long for connection. We are driven naturally to leaders that tend to connect with our own initiatives and desires. I have been driven throughout my life by a Peaceful and loving God, my grandfather who exuded integrity, many of the Nobel Peace Laureates that I have had the honor of knowing, I am also mindful that I grew up surrounded by love. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood. My family was far from perfect, we had our family drama and as a child I certainly had my fair share of struggles that defined much of my childhood, however I also had resiliency factors with many positive strong leaders that helped steer me towards love. I never questioned if we would have food on the table, or if I would have a clean bed, clean water, someone to hug me, tend to my needs if I fell and needed care.
When trying to connect and understand hatred, violence, and blatant disrespect from others, I always try to anchor back to “what was their upbringing like? what happened or triggered in their lives to make them act/react in the way that they did?”. I certainly know much of my own stubbornness, stems from how I was raised and influenced. I also acknowledge accountability. When I watched our presidential debates the inner “little” Colleen was terrified. How could this big bully parade around on stage with such anger and disrespect and how could this woman so robotically speak to her fellow humans with such a lack of personal connection? All political mess aside, I want to ask you to remember what I try to remember in prayer every day.
We all have a story which defines how we act and react.
We all inherently want to be accepted and a part of something
We all have at one point or another experienced love, happiness, fear, sadness, hurt, or betrayal.
We all WANT to succeed in the things that inspire us, and impassion us.
We all desire to feel safe.
We all have personal convictions that influence our choices.
Not everyone grew up with multiple resiliency factors
Not everyone has felt trust.
Not everyone knows where their next meal will come from, or if they will have a safe place to sleep and clean water to drink
EVERYONE WANTS to love themselves, love others, and accept love however it can be scary to be vulnerable and vulnerability takes courage.
Remember that although our views may differ we are still a human family, rise above the divide of hatred and intolerance. LISTEN to someone with opposing views. If you do not agree, you do not have to fight your words for them to understand your perspective. God is BIGGER than hate. The results of this election have been far wider reaching in my soul than who was elected, the results have shown that we as a human family have a significant divide happening. Please remember we are “ALL CREATED EQUAL”. Love your brother and sister.
Hatred will ALWAYS breed more hatred, LOVE will always win. Be your authentic self, be a change maker this winter. Remember change starts in your soul. Ubuntu.
Here we are, watching the universe change into the next season of life. Our summer was eventful. We began taking classes to become foster parents which included 10 courses at 3 hours each including homework, site visits, and a lot of personal reflection. The courses brought us both into an emotional journey as we learned the ins and outs of the foster care world. Many of our classmates were themselves former foster children and now completing the circle in hopes to help others. We studied several sample cases in order to try and glean even the smallest window into what our children in the foster system experience. Many nights my husband and I would drive home in silence trying to process all of the information and understanding the harsh reality that domestic violence, abuse, and neglect is rampant here in our country. Root causes are many, and without opening some resiliency factors into a childs’ life offering them hope, affirmation, guidance, love, and selflessness the cycle will in fact continue, and even when the child is offered such love they may be far too scarred to know how to climb up. The foster care system is more complex than we can wrap our heads around at this point, and since we needed to miss three classes we are still not licensed. My husband needed surgery which took us out of classes, and then we had a family trip which took us away from another. The lesson here? Life happens. So, as much as we hoped to have a little one to love and care for sometime this fall or early winter it looks like we may wait until the next changing season.
We are happily settled into our home now for almost a year and loving the community. We both continue to be active with our work as Red Cross spokespersons, and board members of Bike Walk CT. The summer held a busy race schedule, where we proudly secured a few podium spots (some because there were few competitors but we didn’t care), experienced a warm reunion with my medical staff, family, friends, and heroes at the Red Cross Gala, shared my story with several organizations, and have been vested in getting my memoir published with Hachette Publishing in 2017.
This summer I also learned that my hashtag #productofheroes contained myself. As my husband required a planned surgery, it forced him to need to sleep for a few weeks and for us to take on a strong role reversal as I became the sole caregiver. My panic was immense when I brought him to Yale for surgery, I feared his pain, I feared how I would act or over act in regards to his pain, and I feared how I could handle not having him as my physical rock as he would require me to be strong. Love is a profound and beautifully amazing thing. God gave me the grace to be present for him spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I was also given the grace to continue to train my body. For the first time in five years I trained for over 2 weeks solo, I swam, biked, ran, weight trained, did everything around the house, took care of what needed to be cared for, and the things that were just back ground noise became tuned out. I learned so strongly and so powerfully how to also be a caregiver, and gained an even deeper respect for my best friend who cared for me for years as I went in and out of surgeries. He has taught me over and over that a real man can be weak and strong at the same time and that selflessness is key in love and commitment. I feel like we could almost write another book just on this topic
Sean is healing well, and will be competing with me next weekend in a relay for IronMan Atlantic City. We will make up all missed classes for foster care, and continue to give gratitude for the hero within each of us. There is actually a little “eye” in Hero. Draw it out. 🙂 This fall I will be speaking to the American Case Management Association in two different states, as well for PeaceJam International, and a few other engagements. On October 8th, which is my five year anniversary of being run over I have the joy of being on the Inspiration team with the Hartford Marathon and running for Team Red Cross. I will carry the Red Cross flag each and every mile.
With this I close, and mention the division that has been cut into our American Hearts from the upcoming presidential election. I urge you to remember, #weallbleedred. Regardless of the presidential outcome, the human family will always rise up. Keep your hearts, minds, eyes, and souls open.(This is my staff from Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, CT)
We never know what each season will bring my friends. When we plan how we might rake up the leaves, a powerful wind might just blow them all over the place. The human spirit is resilient, beautiful, powerful, and we are one.
Utmost love and gratitude,
Colleen Kelly Alexander
This is a photo of my mother, father, brother, sister in law, and dearest husband at the Red Cross Gala.
Special thanks to The Dressing Room in Wallingford for this beautiful dress.
Happy summer! If you want to know what I have been up to over the last couple months, check out my May Newsletter.
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HAPPY MUDDY SPRING!
Spring is officially here (per the calendar at least). The New Year brought an incredible winter full of activity, opportunity, and growth. The New Year brought answered prayer and my 43 year old husband was reunited with his biological mother, brothers, and cousins for the first time in his life! This was the first time Sean had the opportunity to look someone in the eyes that he is related to, it was a powerful 2 weeks full of a lot of emotion and gratitude for answered prayer. For those of us who know our biological roots it is hard to understand what someone goes through that has never had that connection. Here is a picture of Sean with his biological mother, her husband, his TWO biological brothers, sister in law and our NIECE!
The spring calendar has quickly filled up with exciting events! This April we will be returning to Galveston, TX for the Galveston 70.3 Iron Man. I am honored to give my medal to a beautiful and brave little warrior this year who has inspired me greatly. Warrior Princess
On May 18th at 7pm, I will be joining cyclists from all over the globe as we participate in the National Ride of Silence as state coordinators for Connecticut. I urge you to participate in a ride where you live. These are “no drop rides”, and are slow paced for all abilities. The purpose of the ride is to honor cyclists that have been killed and or critically injured. It is a powerful international event. Our work as board members with Bike Walk CT has been exciting as we represented CT at the League of American Cyclists summit in DC.
My role as a board member and National Spokesperson with the American Red Cross continues to humble me. I speak at many schools and organizations about the power of blood donations, cpr, volunteerism, and the human spirit. This year I am excited to be the honoree at the Red White and YOU Gala. To say I am honored is a gross understatement. My chief trauma surgeon, along with family will be present at this celebration of Red Cross Heroes. For information on this event, click on this link: Red White and YOU Ball!
I look forward to speaking throughout the spring season, and meeting many of you. For those triathletes out there, I hope to see you at an event! Namaste! The light in ME, is the light in YOU, and the light in YOU, is the light in ME! Stay purpose driven. Stay unfiltered. Always move FORWARD!
2016. I like the way it sounds. Last year I ended 2014 with three massive expanders in my left side, and started 2015 with an 8 hour surgery (January 2nd) to take out expanders, remove several feet of heavily scarred skin and close major gaps with my newly grown and stretched skin from the expanders. I was released home only 2 days later requiring in home nursing care for wound changes and pain management. 2015 started off very difficult. I was back on crutches for some time with drainage tubes for a few weeks until my left side began to normalize. I required several more procedures of blood drainage in the OR from masses forming due to internal scar tissue build up. Found myself experiencing many moments of shear frustration that after so many races and triathlons I felt like I was once again back at a starting line learning basic things again. I watched my husband do countless wound changes the first two months of 2015 and held onto his embrace when the pain would kick in and various nerves would start to “wake back up and reconnect”. I once again embraced the feeling of being authentic, vulnerable, and in the moment and I vowed that even when my pain would dissipate and my surgeries would fade out, I would forever live a life raw, and unfiltered in hopes of being a catalyst for change. 2015 brought the honor of being asked to join the board of directors for the American Red Cross and the board of directors for Bike Walk Connecticut. 2015 brought numerous opportunities to speak across the country at races, businesses, medical communities, and in the media. 2015 brought many more finish lines and medals to be given to heroes. 2015 brought so many hugs that just sitting here my smile widens and my heart is warm. Sean and I had the honor of being flown to Arizona for the National Trauma Conference to receive an award with my trauma surgeon and lead ICU nurse from Yale for how exceptional my treatment and recovery has been.
This past year we finally had our horrid case settle which was in federal court. One of the greatest moments of this past year was meeting David Smith in person and giving him a hug. David was the first person on scene the day I was run over, he witnessed every gory detail and then stood strong as our main witness for the next several years. We bought our first home together. We signed up to be foster parents. We finally had the funds to not only pay off our medical debt but also hire an investigator to connect my husband with his biological roots as he was adopted at birth. Sean and I began writing our first book TOGETHER, co-authoring on the topic of gratitude. I was only hospitalized three times for sepsis and circulatory distress (a problem that will be chronic as long as I have the honor to live). My husbands book proposal on caregiving that he is writing in tandem with Echo Garret has been completed and is in the next steps towards securing a publisher. My memoir is also
currently seeking a publisher. We have regained training again, and Sean completed his first FULL Ironman in November. Our lives have continued on the path of being very purpose driven.
I am not one for New Years Resolutions, because I have always felt we should live each day as if it is a New Year, because it is. In 2016, I look forward to meeting many more of you. I look forward to working with the American Red Cross and helping to raise funds and educational awareness towards disaster relief, blood donations, First Aid, and CPR. I look forward to continued advocacy work around safer streets.
I look forward to the road ahead realizing that nothing is definite. I realize that change happens in a second. I realize that I can not control everything that happens around me or to me but I can control how I act and react.
I will continue to take a stand to break down societal barriers about mental illness, anger, violence, chronic pain, traumatic brain injuries, and being ok sometimes not being ok. We are a HUMAN FAMILY complete with much possibility, may we choose to roll our shoulders back with confidence, and work together to create stronger, safer, and healthier communities. Welcome 2016.