Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Well it’s September 11th.   

This is a day when I always long to be back in New York City, where I was in 2001, and sit with my co-workers, re-telling our various stories from that day. How we heard the plane, saw the plane, saw the towers fall, watched people walking up Broadway covered in ash, huddled together waiting to hear from loved ones, walked the long way home to Queens and Brooklyn and upper Manhattan, welcomed people into our homes who couldn’t find their way. How we watched the streets quickly fill up with swat teams and soldiers, and how we saw the lines at blood banks immediately go ‘round the block. How we weren’t allowed back to our lower Manhattan office for days. How we volunteered right away to help serve the First Responders at St. Paul’s Chapel. How once we got safely to our homes we, like the rest of the country, couldn’t keep our eyes off the t.v.  How we watched as friends got deployed.  And watched as family got news of loved ones lost.

On every anniversary, I’m flooded with the memories of it. Today, where I sit in Indiana, is a day much very much like that day was in New York.  It’s beautiful.  Sunny blue skies, in the 70s. Calm.

On that calm day I voted, took the subway to the office, grabbed a coffee from the cart, and as I walked into my office building heard a sound so loud and out of place it made me walk right back out of the building to try and make sense of what it was and where it might be coming from.   It only took a few minutes for that answer to reveal itself.

It’s definitely a “before” and “after” kind of day.

Before, we looked at the world one way.  And after, we saw it differently.

I was actually planning to post a blog both yesterday and today, but yesterday’s got caught in my throat. I’ve been watching the footage, fallout, and debate around the Serena Williams championship match against Naomi Osaka at the US Open.  I’ve been watching the footage, fallout, and debate around the Colin Kaepernick Nike ad. I’ve been watching the footage, fallout, and debate around Bob Woodward’s new book about the Trump Presidency.  And so on. And I certainly have my own opinions about all of them. But so, it seems, does everyone else. And our debate over all of them has been anything but calm.

But today as I look out my window and see the sun shining, and the leaves of the trees dancing in the very light breeze, and as I stare at the blue sky and listen to the August crickets, I just want to remember this:  if you shift your perspective, calm can always be found.

And I also want to remember this: another storm is always brewing. (Another storm IS brewing, as we speak!  Bless you, Carolinas.  May Florence show mercy).  

The calm is temporary.

But the storms are too, in whatever form they take.

So what do we do?

I wish the hell I knew.

I only know this one thing. If you can recognize the calm while you’re in it, if you can appreciate those around you while they are around you, if you can extend forgiveness and an open ear to those that appear to be on the other side of an argument, if you can notice all that exists when you’re in the calm… well then I think you’re better prepared to weather the inevitable storm.

So there are a lot of things on my mind this September 11th.  And there are a lot of arguments to join in on. And there is a lot of wrong in this world.

But there is also a lot of right.

Where can you find your calm right now?



Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.