One month later

May 17, 2013 

Have you ever experienced chaos, grief, tragedy, even rejection, and it seems that everyone is there to help during the peak of the event?

Then time starts to pass and life goes back to normal. You are forced to learn a new normal whether you want to or not. Sometimes life is just tricky enough to teach us a lesson that will shape the way we live our lives forever. Life typically doesn’t ask if we are ready for our lesson so it’s important that you prepare yourself by looking for the silver lining.

One month ago I ran my second Boston Marathon. I first qualified for this race in 2008 when life threw me a curveball and I had my son five weeks early and spent several days in ICU. This was the first life lesson in realizing that you can never take your health for granted.

More importantly don’t ever take for granted being given a healthy child. I decided at this point I would attempt to qualify to run the marathon. I was motivated by the simple fact that I am tough, I don’t give up on my dreams (child included). I had run for several years at the time, but I really wasn’t maximizing my potential. Sometimes life gives us reminders.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. We just don’t always know the reason. My passion for running was a bit contagious which lead to another lesson to be shared with friends. Living with no regret and not setting limits.

I use running as my analogy, but this goes with anything in life. It can be your job, your family, a personal goal, but the bottom line is, do not set limits. Remove your limits sometime and see what happens. You will be pleased. What you do every day impacts the people you love and ignites your GPS for life. You just get to decide if it’s going to be a positive or a negative impact. I recommend the positive.

Fast forward a month ago to the Boston Marathon. My 13th marathon overall lined up perfectly to run in 2013. It was my Lucky No. 13. While the number 13 is deemed unlucky, one month later, as I reflect on my experience in Boston, I am feeling quite lucky. Your attitude and perception is a direct reflection on your outlook of life. In case you haven’t picked up on the theme, that’s another lesson.

The events in Boston didn’t just change my thoughts, but the way our country thinks. As I stood with my family taking post-race photos and heard the bombs go off, I instantly knew there was trouble. And I knew this because of 9/11. When the second bomb went off I looked into the sky for airplanes and more destruction. This was my instinct because our security and trust was broken 12 years ago.

It is so easy to dwell on the negative and fear evil as you watch the camaraderie of perfect strangers and freedom stolen before your eyes. It didn’t just change this one race, but the way we run all races and the way we run our lives. The ripple effect of evil spread nationwide sending the message that we are never really safe. It’s the way we respond to this lesson that will show our true growth and power as human beings.

You never know when your moment to impact others or live your life will change forever or when your moment is finished. This lesson was reminded to us by the lives lost and the innocence of a child who won’t see his next birthday. Don’t ever take for granted the ones you love, especially your children.

People have said to me, “Aren’t you glad you finished?” I am thankful I finished because that meant I was safe and with my family. A medal does not define my success. My success is measured in what I learned from those who didn’t get to finish and the ones who won’t ever run again. The most valued lesson displayed was the spirit and resilience of ordinary people.

Tarnished and tattered it may have seemed, Boston taught me some valuable lessons: Adversity comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s how you respond that really matters. Sometimes you are the teacher and sometimes you are the student.

What is your Boston and how will it impact the choices you make in your life? Shoot for the moon or do something simple like me and spend a little more time with the ones you love. Especially my 5-year-old son, who taught me to always believe in miracles and the power that one person has to change your whole outlook on life.

Stacy Scalfaro lives in Lee’s Summit and works as a guidance counselor in the Blue Springs School District. She’s been an educator for 17 years with a passion for running and helping others.

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