When We Awaken

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
When We Awaken

For some reason lately I’ve been thinking about those moments that awaken us in some way—moments that either subtly or profoundly affect the way we interact with the world.

Some of those moments are earth-shattering, like the first time Loss comes up and punches you squarely in the face (for me, that came in the form of a 7 am phone call when I was 17 years old alerting me to the death of one of my most beloveds).

Some of those moments are seemingly trivial, like the first time you find your own unique style (I still remember trying to explain to my mom just how important Grunge music was as a college student in the early 90s).

Sometimes those moments change the very face of the world, like the first time you encounter a national or global crisis (Nothing will soften the memory of standing on a rooftop in Manhattan with some of my co-workers, some blocks north of the World Trade Center, marveling at the gaping holes in the sides of the buildings, when the sudden distant rumble of some kind of thunder preceded the slow and shocking collapse of the first tower).

Sometimes those moments make you aware that you’ve never actually understood the full function of your heart until then (While I thought my elementary-age heart fully opened up when I first saw "Stand By Me" and was introduced to the glory of River Phoenix, it was actually the first time I held my first baby that I knew the world would forever be so much more terrifying, heartbreaking, beautiful, wide open and exquisite… and that I could never hide my heart from any of it again).

Sometimes those moments show us just how important our voice actually is (I spent the first year and a half at The Leadership Program waiting for an invitation to be included, to be “liked,” to be considered worthy.  And then I got tired of waiting and just declared myself included…  and I’ve spent the past thirteen and half years declaring rather than waiting). 

And some of those moments aren’t actual moments at all but rather the accumulation of pieces of moments that you suddenly become aware of on a random Tuesday (my husband and I have been married for 14 ½ years, and clinking coffee mugs across the table at each other this morning I was hit with the profound weight of the remarkable life we’ve created together, side by side, interwoven in ways that are not explainable and that extend so far past the pictures on the wall of two young people on their wedding day, practical strangers to me now)

Whether small (how did I ever live in a world without minivans?) or big (This wide-open heart thing that my children have created in me is sometimes unbearable)… these are the moments that offer an opportunity for us to awaken.  It’s as if one of the many layers that color how we view the world gets peeled away, and as such the color shifts just a bit and the world looks different, forever.   It’s kind of stunning when you take a moment to think about it, when you awaken to these awakenings.

I can't imagine the moments that awakened the veterans that have served our country, and how profoundly those moments shifted the way they hold the world.  On this Veteran's Day, I bow in reverance to you and all that you have done for all of us.   Thank you for your service.

What moments have awakened you?  

Opportunity:  Readers!  If you do take time to think about the moments that have awakened you, I'd love to hear how those moments shifted your perspective on the world.  Feel free to write about them in the comments section below.


Interested in having Erika’s blog come directly to your e-mail each Tuesday? Have comments to share?  E-mail her at erika@tlpnyc.com.   Find all her previous blog posts at www.tlpnyc.com/author/erika


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.