Tag Archives: 9/11

HUMANITY

Change for Good: Playing and Praying for Texas

I first started blogging on Myspace. It was my initial experience with writing online and I fell in love with it — I found a voice that had been buried since college creative writing classes and I discovered new things about myself every time I hit publish. As social media grew and how I connected with the world changed as a result of social and mobile technologies, I changed. I became bold and an avid storyteller. I shifted my “creative writing” platform from Myspace to Facebook to RecruitingBlogs to Blogging4Jobs to Intrepid.Media – it has been a 15-year process of progress and I can’t say I have enjoyed ever minute of it, but I have evolved and changed. Which is what progress is, correct? Here’s to progress…

Writing for Change

As I consider all I have written about and all that has occurred in my life since 9/11 – change and growth has been a direct result. I was not in NYC on that day of death, destruction, hatred, and fear, but I can easily trace significant personal change back to that morning, while I sat with my four young children and we watched, as did the world, what looked like the end of the world as we knew it. It was the jolt I needed to wake up in my own life. Less than a month later, I ended my destructive marriage and it was time for me to do what America and New York City would have to do – slowly, embrace life again, rebuild, love, and triumph – rise like a phoenix from ashes of terror.

This Week’s Wrath

While Harvey and nature have been the terrorists this week in Texas, I am seeing similar stories as those revealed on 9/11 – stories of heroism and love, trust and glory rise higher than the waters. Destruction, death, and fear have pushed out hatred — hatred will not win this battle.

There have been those who have lost everything. We have seen stories of tragedy and survival – there are many more to come as Houston, Beaumont, and the many areas affected by the hurricane come to the next place, the place where the waters recede and life and livelihoods begin the clean-up and plan for the next phase of recovery.

We are, we will…

We are humanity. We will survive. We will rebuild and renew. And we will do this together. Many have come together to help – to rescue, to donate needed items, to raise fund, to assist. It is easy to feel helpless – those that feel that way should only be those still standing in water. Give where you can. 

But I am so far away

I live in Laguna Beach, nearly 1400 miles from the devastation. Last night, I sat on a cement bench and watched 6 individual musicians busk on a street corner to raise money for those affected. #PlayingForTexas Dozens of people passed by, dropping money in their bucket. You are not helpless to give back. Find a way — even if it is just through prayer or sending positivity and messages of love and compassion.

Every Little Bit Helps.

BUSINESS, HR

HR Latte, EPISODE 100: Bill Kutik

HR Tech Pre-Conference CHATS: Guest Bill Kutik joins Rayanne for this #KeyPointPodcast 
iHR logo

HR Latte, episode 100


Series:
 Pre-HR Tech

Bill KutikBill Kutik, of Firing Line with Bill Kutik, joined Rayanne for this special edition of HR Latte, a pre-conference conversation for the 19th Annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition.  Bill Kutik is a legend in HR Technology with 27 years under his Technology Columnist for Human Resource Executive Magazine and having been the founder of the HR Technology Conference 19 years ago, which HRE owns.

“The facts are good enough.” – Bill Kutik
What else do we need to say?

HR Technology

Bill started Firing Line with Bill Kutik two years ago while producing audio and written content, as well, to benefit the industry by sharing key points, ideas, information, and technology for human resource professionals and those who build , market, sell technologies which support the HR industry.

Check out Bill’s latest Firing Line with guest Naomi Bloom: HR Tech Guru Naomi Bloom on Getting Faster Software Implementation – Tech has exploded but not the selection, buying and implementation of software, which remains largely manual. Naomi Bloom has some answers.

Discussion Points for this episode:

  • Firing Line will Bill Kutik
  • The Perfect Learning Object: a 5-minute video
  • Oct 1 Issue of HRE highlights Bill’s annual review of HR Tech: SAP, Oracle, Workday
  • Most Memorable HR Tech Conference: 9/11/2001

On Twitter

@BillKutik
@Ray_anne
and @HRLatte

*Click here for past Episodes 1-66 on BlogTalkRadio – our original venue for HR Latte

HRLatte is made possible by:

Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

HR, LIFESTYLE

NYC 15 Years Later: The Memorial and Never Forgetting

memorial


“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” –John Steinbeck

15 Years Later, New York City: the Memorial and Never Ever Forgetting                

How do you start a story about something that you don’t really want to talk about but have to? How Do you tell a story about the lives of people that you were just getting to know who were taken from you through an act of senseless terror, only days after your birthday on a warm summer morning? I don’t know, I know. Maybe this is not a story that will be written well, a page turner if you will, but, it’s not a story; It’s real. Many of us in the little aquarium we call life find ourselves smacking our heads against the glass, wondering why we are trapped and how we can get out. Thanks, Pink Floyd. So, if you want to go on this emotional roller-coaster with me, then here is your ticket, if not, frankly I do not blame you. Honestly, I hate that I pulled that number myself, but at times life is, as I often say, a dark ride. I did not choose it, but you did, so, come on in, it’s a long read, but I hope it’s worth it, and you will understand why I wrote it.

So the Ride Begins: The Preface

My first trip to NYC was when I was ten years old and there were three things I wanted to see: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Trade Center Towers. When you are ten years old, it’s the big things, not the little things that matter to you and this was how old I was when I got to see, firsthand, those sites. To me, the Twin Towers were the greatest thing I had ever seen. I had gone there many times after that first trip. Over the years, I always marveled at the height of the towers and how the steel and glass glistened in the daylight. At night, it would glow like two behemoth beacons beckoning for you to come inside and see the city from its perspective. There was an observation deck on the top floor of one of the towers – I forget which one now, but due to its height and wind shear, you were not allowed to be outside like you could at the Empire State Building. Good for me I suppose, as heights are my Achilles heel. I get vertigo being above ten floors is often, if not always, overwhelming – especially if I am outdoors. I suppose this is what ended my mountain climbing career.

Then it happened, the attacks on the Towers, the Pentagon, and the brave souls in Pennsylvania. When I do speak of that day, and I rarely do, I always cry because, not only the tragic loss of life, but also, the loss of the world’s, and my, innocence. On that fateful day, seven of my friend’s lives were snatched from them in Tower One as it collapsed in on itself – much to the horror of those who watched, powerless and stunned, as it fell. I sat helplessly in Phoenix, thousands of miles away, as I observed the South Tower fall on the television screen. There was nothing I could have done and the hopelessness which gripped me has never been stronger than that day.

The Return – Part One

memorial

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” –Vicki Harrison

Roughly a year later, I was offered a trip to NYC to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play against the New York Yankees in a baseball rematch of the 2011 World Series. I am a diehard baseball fan and jumped at the chance for a free trip and a four-game series inside one the oldest and most historic parks in the US. We planned our entire trip to the big city from what Broadway show to see, museums to wander, and of course, what diners we would be eating delectables in the city. None of us spoke about the towers, not once. The group I was going with knew about my loss, and I suppose did not want to upset me by bringing up what happened that day. I was the only one in my group who had lost someone, let alone seven people – so how to be empathetic was lost on them? They are not bad people, mind you, they just had no idea how to broach the subject and I know I would have been the same way, it’s not something anyone thinks about, until you do.

We were going to spend six days in the city and had everything planned out, except the last day, the last day was a free day for everyone to do what they wanted, on their own time – at their pace. There was the talk of a trip to MOMA or Coney Island. There is much to do in the city that never sleeps. The trip was a great one, and I was pleased that everything went off without any issues and was looking forward to our bonus day, although I had no idea what I wanted to do, well, there was something.

King KongThe whole time we were in the city, I longed to go to Ground Zero, the place that even the great King Kong of the 1976 movie fame could not topple – the massive towers and, yet, they were gone.

Morning arrived on my last full day in NYC and as I rose to wash my face, still having no idea what I was going do with the day. I got dressed and while putting on my shoes, there was a knock at the door. I assumed it was just the house cleaning crew as I may have forgotten to put the do not disturb sign on the handle the night before. I was thoroughly taken aback when I opened the door, and my friends, all of them, were standing there. Bob, the elder of the group and the unofficial leader, said, “After you had left last night we all took a vote, it was unanimous, we are taking you to Ground Zero.” I felt my heart swell with pride and love that I had for a group of people who were willing to give up their free day for me to go and pay my respects at the site without having to be alone. Bob was a native New Yorker but had not been living there for over 30 years. He knew the city was hurting, I was hurting, and he recognized this was the right thing to do, or so we all thought.

When we got downtown, my anxiousness and fears set in as there were no behemoth towers, as we drove up, where they were supposed to be. There is an old joke; you know that light at the end of the tunnel? That is the train coming. Here I was stuffed into a cab on a hot summer day with the smells of the city and Aqua Velva emanating from the driver, as the reality of what had happened in NYC on September 11, 2001 hit me with full force.

This actually happened. I am going to have to own this pain now as this is not a dream, they were gone, and nothing would change that, nothing.

NYCWe arrived a few blocks from the site, and I scooped up my disposable camera I had bought to take pictures to hang in my office and, with a deep breath, began to walk toward the debris that even after a year was still was being cleared away. In the distance, I could see the makeshift memorial, the pictures, the flowers, the hope that, for some unexplainable reason, a loved one or friend would rise from the ashes and hug them again. I was only one block away but… I never made it.

kiss a strangerInstead, I dropped to my knees, unable to support the weight of the pain of my loss. There were now, not just seven people in my mind, but thousands and the burden of seeing those fliers on buildings, fences, and trees were too much, I was having a panic attack and didn’t know it. Bob was the first one to reach me, as he was literally by my side, but he was unable to lift a guy my size. The others quickly came to me and helped me up and asked the standard question, are you ok? I was not, even my dry wit had abandoned me, and I quietly murmured, I want to go back to the hotel.

So, we did. I made my way to the hotel bar and asked for a drink, a stiff drink. I know if there had been a pool of whiskey or vodka somewhere, I would have been swimming in it and drinking my way to the bottom. It was depression to the highest order, this was anger, and it was unresolved sorrow. I drank until I passed out and not one of my friends left my side. They put me to bed, helped with the hangover the next day, and never said a word.

The Return – Part Two

memorial“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it is digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” –Samuel Johnson

I am writing this the day after my trip to NYC (New York City) to speak about a point in my life that I had been putting off for over 14 years. I had been to the city a few times after 9/11, but I could never bring myself to go to where the towers once stood proudly in the financial district of the city, near the banks of the Hudson River. After 13 years from that first trip back, I had yet to return to that part of New York again. I had been up once or twice, but I never went downtown to the district. It was where “it” had happened, where the towers were taken down, and the fact that I am, in fact, utterly human and completely fallible. The debris was gone, a new single enormous tower was constructed next to the site of the original Twins, and the city had moved on. I received a message from my friend Rayanne Thorn that she was coming to NYC to meet with friends and do some business and was hoping that I could come up for a family style dinner on a Thursday evening. I had finished a project and was waiting to start a new full-time role a few weeks away, and I thought why not, so I said yes knowing full well that although I did want to see her and others, I had an alternative motive this time to return.

I called my good friend Steve Levy and asked if he was around to pal around with me on Thursday before the dinner and I had a favor to ask of him. I wanted to go and see the tower and the memorial for 9/11. Steve had lost a friend, no, a brother who was one of the firefighters that died risking his life to save others. He carries his picture in his wallet with him, as I was later to find out. Me, I only had names and memories. He, of course, said, “Absolutely man, absolutely.”

I arrived on Wednesday had dinner with a friend, Mike Astringer, a fellow recruiter. A drink later with Levy and then it was Thursday morning. I awoke with palpitations and angst, the same I had felt those many years ago. We had breakfast and took the subway to downtown to see the memorial, the tower, and my past. I don’t know if he did it on purpose, not knowing my previous encounter with this site, or he did it for effect, but we got off a few blocks away from the Tower and began to walk.

We joked like we always did when we were together and the jocularity kept things light as the magnificence of the Freedom Tower loomed closer and larger, as did the angst rising within me. When we got to the tower, the landscape was entirely different, I recognized nothing, it was all different, but in the right way. The sun was shining and although it was cool outside the mood, was nothing like that. There was hope in the air. There was no more crying, no more leaflets or trash, and there was actually laughter in the air. Children were staring in awe at the foot of the Freedom Tower, not knowing the history, just taking in the magnificence.

We made our way to the Memorial and walked up to where the South Tower once stood and those feelings came back to me: pain, fear, despair, and loss. I was older now, and there was a distance created by time, yet it felt like 2002 all over again, and there was a tightness in my chest. We pressed on and arrived at the Freedom Tower. I was amazed; here I stood at the tallest building in the northern hemisphere, and I looked at it as if I were meeting one of my favorite authors, star struck. I am telling you; this was a bucket list moment.

The Memorial, the Hug, and Releasing Everything

memorialWhere I live, if someone gives you a hug it’s from the heart. – Steve Irwin

It was time to go to the Memorial and say goodbye the proper way, while paying my respects to not only the seven but to all who lost their lives that senselessly day. When I arrived at where the South Tower once stood, I was silent. I wanted to look for the names of my friends, I wanted to scream, I wanted answers, I just wanted something, what I wanted was peace, I wanted them back. I was holding it all back just breathing heavy and staring at the names and the splendor of the water flowing down the falls, the endless repetition of the water, there was so much beauty in front of me yet I only felt heartbreak. Steve and I made our way to the North Tower, the last tower to fall, and the one that, when it did, took his friend. He told me the stories of being lifeguards together when they were together and showed me the picture he still carries in his wallet of his friend. Soon we separated, to reflect alone, and that, my friends, is where it all sort of fell apart. I was just standing, staring at people, thinking, remembering that night we all met, what a night it was. We were all recruiters sharing stories about life, about ourselves, safe, now gone.

,A couple around my age were taking pictures and trying, as our generation does, to take a selfie of themselves in front of the inverted fountain before us. I stared at them wondering why this was some Kodak moment for them, but trying to feel no emotion and not completely break down, I went to move on only to have the wife jump in front of me and ask if I would take a picture of them. I replied, if you agree not to smile, this is, in a way, a graveyard and should always be respected. I have never seen eyes like hers stare at me and say, “You are of course right, we just want to document that we were here, our first time in NYC and all.” I realized my arrogance and said, just kidding in a genuine way to make them feel better as I was wrestling with my demons of 15 years and trying to stay calm. I took a few shots of them and, oddly, they did not smile, they knew, maybe, that this was not a celebratory place, but a memorial.

Once picture time was over, I smiled and was ready to slide back into keeping inside, pushing down my feelings and fighting back the tears trying come out. The woman said, “Thank you so much, are you from here?” No, I said, I lost seven friends here 15 years ago and at that moment the world stopped turning, there was no sound at all, just quiet within my mind. Pompeii then rose, and there was no holding anything back. I began to shake then cry, and the tears flowed. With no lack of hesitation, the woman standing by my side, the woman whose name I did not know, took me in her arms like a mother comforting a wounded child. She whispered, “It’s going to be all right,” her husband put his hand on my shoulder and said a short prayer then waited until I could finally, let go. It was nothing less than cathartic and cleansing; the demons were found and  released, and I could breathe again. I nodded my head and wandered till I found Steve, it was time to go somewhere, anywhere else other than here.

The Dinner and New Beginnings

Steve and I wandered the city after that, continuing our inner reflective journey. He often spoke of his world before and after, I was, oddly quiet as I am usually more verbose. Later, we had a drink with a mutual friend then off to a dinner planned by the irrepressible Rayanne Thorn. I don’t care much for large gatherings and usually shy from them but on the same note, it’s often hard for us to all meet up somewhere without the pressure of talking at a conference. Other than Steve and Rayanne, I knew no one at the event planned yet, from the moment I walked in I felt as if I was in a room of siblings and family I never knew existed.

7 new friendsWe laughed, smiled, and told our stories of how we all knew and met Rayanne; oddly it was mostly in a bar…another story I suppose. 😉 All the while, the day that was now behind me still lingered in mind, one last little demon still tapping on my brain. I was present but felt that to sum up the last 15 years needed to be brought out, I am a storyteller, you know. So, I told them at the dinner table after our meal the story you read here and the love that I felt, hugs that I received, and the stories that we shared made it one of the maven nights in this guy’s life. I must say that I thank all of you who were at that table for taking a moment to pay tribute to those who died that infamous day. Although I will never forget the seven people that I lost, I am grateful for the seven new friends I made that night, honored, humbled, and appreciative.

#truestory and, well #life