Day 14

Why do I cry when I’m really happy?  Every time I hear a moving story that is really one of joy…I cry.  What’s that all about?”

I’m writing to you today, while I’m stranded (kind of) in the Minneapolis airport.  Lots of snow means lots of delays which means missing lots of connections…so here I sit for five hours for the last flight out to Charlotte.

This morning I attended a Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast for the fabulous coaches and volunteers in Kent County, Michigan.  (Grand Rapids.)  Lori Burgess our council director there kicked off the event by introducing three amazing speakers.  I cried after each of them spoke.  Quinn, Ally and Tiffany.

Quinn is a sixth grader who shared a prize-winning essay she had written about how Girls on the Run made her fearless.

Ally wrote a thank you letter to all the Girls on the Run coaches who had helped transform her from a timid and lonely girl into an outgoing and friend-full-life girl.

Tiffany brought the house down.  She opened her speech by holding up the pants she used to wear.  Tiffany has lost 200 pounds and did that through exercise and healthy eating.  She has been selected to serve as a “Road Warrior” by the Fifth Third Bank 15 miler.  Ten people were selected for their inspiring stories.  I don’t think anyone there this morning was surprised that she had been one of the “selectees.”

It isn’t often that I am left speechless.  I do a lot of public speaking, but when I stood to begin my presentation after these four amazing women…I was simply without words.  I couldn’t get them out…heck…I couldn’t even think to get words out.  I was too much in a space of feeling.   Tears were showing up and words were not.

I’ll admit it.  I’m a crier.  I have been since I was a little girl.  My son possesses this same gift. (And sometimes burden).  We can literally feel people’s pain…often without their even expressing it in words. But what continues to baffle me…and actually delight me at the same time…is how the tears appear when I’m actually filled with joy.

At the finish of a Girls on the Run event, I cry…often times so hard I need to pull off from the line and find a small hiding place to let the tears fly. I cry when I am happy.  I cry when I am grateful.  I cry when I am overjoyed.  I cry when I am at peace.  I cry far more frequently when I am happy than when I am sad. I’ve noticed that most children don’t cry when they are resting on the more positive side of the emotional spectrum. Why the difference?  What’s that about?

I have an interesting theory, but not too sure if I’m going to be able to articulate it very well. Let’s take for example the Girls on the Run finish line.  The impulse to tear up doesn’t happen right away.  It builds.  I generally begin the process after I’ve been standing there a while.  My take on it is this…while the dominant emotion is joy, happiness and gratitude as I stand there…deep, deep below rests the memory of times in my life when I didn’t feel these emotions.  As a matter of fact I felt at times, NO emotion.  The tears seem to be a call from past memories…perhaps uncried or unprocessed sorrow or fear that rests within…and is allowed some release when I’m in a state of feeling. It’s as if the gates which restrain my full expression of emotions are opened…all of my emotions whether experienced in the moment or unexperienced from my past…are released.  Children haven’t yet built up that well of unprocessed emotions and so don’t have them yet to liberate!

I’m very, very curious to hear from you.  Why do you think we cry when we are happy, joyful or grateful?  What is that about?

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14 Responses to Day 14

  1. Wendy says:

    Molly I am right along with you on this topic. I had no idea I was going to sit there yesterday with our group and cry. I think you said it though…you are able to feel the emotions with the others, that is what it is for me. Very powerful & emotional stories were shared and I think it is our way of empathsizing (is that a word?) with them and their experiences. The two young girls were both amazing and they are both going to be the future for GOTR and the world! Tiffany just blew me away. I was crying with her when she first walked up and couldn’t speak at first. She is amazing and is doing all of the right things for all of the right reasons! I am running the River Run this year too, I told her I would be with her that day both in spirit on on the pavement. I plan to follow her blog and encourage her. WOW!
    Crying isn’t just for sadness, it is how we share a lot of emotions but empathy is the biggest one for me I think! (I find myself tearing up during American Idol, Extreme Home Makeover etc…My daughter peeks over at me and is like jeez Mom! Can’t help it, I feel their emotions!)
    Thank you again for spending your time this week in GR, I feel so lucky to have shared time with you twice! You inspire so many & we appreciate it! I spoke to some parents last night of girls who heard you speak at CPLC on Friday and you made quite an impression, they thoroughly enjoyed you! THANK YOU!!!

  2. Andi Whaley says:

    Stanislavsky would call this being “emotionally available”.

    I think that when you allow yourself to be truly present, not waiting to make your point or manipulate the conversation, you feel others’ emotions much more strongly. For some this takes a concerted effort, some don’t learn it at all, but I think there is a breed of folks who effortlessly let other people’s thoughts and feelings take center stage when it is those people’s time to share. I guess when you feel so much emotion, your body has to let it out somehow, and I think our bodies don’t know the difference between an intense happy or an intense sad as far as physical response. I cry when I am overwhelmed, either by happiness or sadness.

    I’m not sure about why kids don’t often cry out of joy. I have seen it happen a few times, but it is true that it isn’t often. Come to think of it, the kids I have seen cry out of joy are often kids who have had great sorrow in their lives. So maybe it IS a memory of when things weren’t so good. Maybe most kids are still innocent enough to assume that good things will happen, so while they get excited at joyful experiences they don’t seem like things that were unlikely to happen.

  3. I was just thinking of this topic. I went to see The King’s Speech yesterday and shed some tears. I don’t think the movie would’ve had the same effect on me in my earlier years. I think the metaphor of filling the well is perfect. As our well fills up with experience we are able to truly know gratefulness.
    Here is another thought. We have minds, bodies and spirits to help us get through this world. Spirit is supposed to be our pilot, yet most days we “turn over the controls” to our minds and bodies. Crying at happiness, joy, and perhaps most of all, gratefulness, is our spirit’s way of re-asserting primacy. I can see the conversation:
    “Mind and Body, you are good friends, but let’s not forget you work for me.”
    “Oh yeah, well I don’t THINK it would look good to cry in public”, says Mind.
    “I ain’t gonna do it,” says Body.

    And then Spirit comes in and just lays the smack down, and the next thing you know… bawling! Spirit wins again.

  4. Janet Nocar says:

    I have come to realize that the tears come from the space within called “love”. For me it it that simple.

  5. Amy Snow-Buckner says:

    Crying when we’re happy, joyful or grateful proves that regardless of our differences and varied experiences, we all are connected. Like you, Molly, I am a crier — and have been since I was a young girl. When I cry at the finish line of the Girls on the Run 5K, I know it’s for two reasons. I’m overjoyed by the idea that hundreds of girls are experiencing something that was instilled in me by my parents at a young age: Believe in yourself, and you can do anything. I’m also grateful for those summer evenings as a child I accompanied my Dad to a nearby high school track to run alongside him and watch as he ran hurdles and threw the shot put and discus. (True to form, I’m crying as I type this 🙂

  6. Molly,
    I loved meeting you. Your spirit and passion are very strong and you didn’t even have to speak for me to realize that. As a representative for Fifth Third River Bank run it is my honor to be partnered with your foundation. if there is anything I can ever do for GOTR please let me know.

  7. Jo says:

    I have thought about this for a day now. I am one of those people who very seldom cry. I find those rare occasions when I do break down and let it all out very “cleansing.” It is not that I am completely numb. Some movies and books make me cry, people or stories that touch or move me make me cry, memories of my mother make me cry. For the most part though, I cry when I am sad or very stressed. I cannot think of once that I have cried when I was happy or joyful. I realize we are all different and this is just a part of me that makes me who I am. But the question of what makes us all so different is still interesting. For those of us who don’t cry, have we cried enough throughout our lives that our emotions have always had a release; or are we afraid to let go to the emotional response of crying because our wells are so full we know it will be uncontrollable and we don’t like that feeling of not being in control; or is life just more simple for some of us – when we are happy we smile, when we are sad we cry.

  8. Kristine says:

    I am glad you brought this up. My husband says this is one of the reasons he loves me…I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve….I wear them as a neon sign around my neck!! When I am happy or sad, I cry. Sometimes on a run I will hear a song that just opens the floodgates. I cry when I watch my GOTR cross the finish line for the first time (or the second or 3rd time!). I cry when I cross a finish line of a 5K, 10K, or marathon. I am a crier! I laugh, smile, cry, yell, scream, you name it…I express it. I have taught my own kids to find healthy ways to express their emotions. I feel that if we do not express what we feel….after too long it is like a volcano errupting…there is no stopping the flow once it starts.

    If you feel it…express it. Show the world that you are alive.

  9. Michele Batz says:

    Hello, again Molly!

    Tears are for joy, excitment, the overwhelmness (if there is such a word) of an event, that just jumps up and grabs you! We must express ourselves and let the tears flow…it means you have a passion for something!

    Go For It!

  10. Michele Batz, Ph.D. says:

    I cry when people get it! The “it” is when they see themselves as I see them. The “it” is when they realize they have “it”, they become empowered, engaged and ignited.

    Nothing can stop anyone, when they get “it”.

    We are planning to re-join GOTR-Chicago–and so looking forward to engaging with the girls and empowering them further for their entire lives.

    Molly gets “it”!

  11. Caprice says:

    Loved reading these posts. Wow, I am and always have been a crier. I used to think it came from a place of sadness and that I just didn’t know how to express that deep sadness other than to cry. I always wondered when my well would finally be dry (work through all of the sadness). However, as I get older, I realize more and more that I cry these days when I feel something to be “true” or when I recognize “truth”. Some people stand up and shout YES!, I get it! But for me, the YES!, I get it! comes in the form of a deep, soulful tug that manifests in a good cry. I like the idea from Robert…maybe it is the language of our soul. And, instead of feeling ashamed for crying or hiding it, I am working on becoming more comfortable sharing that part of myself. I am learning to appreciate feeling open and real after a good cry. 🙂

  12. Bob says:

    I ONLY seem to cry at happy or joyful moments. I was curious about this, and that is how I found this posting, so thank you. I think Janet hit it for me….I cry when I experience love…either first hand, shared or as a spectator. The unexpected magic of spontaneous love at a music concert, sports event, or gathering. Or even the planned and manipulated love of a movie, when the movie “gets it right” I think they have in fact struck magic and created love.

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