The Heart of the Matter: What Grounds You?


So all last week I found myself thinking about a button.

button heart_opt



My son decided he wanted to go to prom (a week before prom, mind you), which meant a last minute run for prom tickets, a boutonniere, a corsage, and a tux.

My husband suggested he try on his tux. His twenty year old wedding tuxedo.




The tux fit. It was a tad roomy, but all it really needed was a new button.

I put mending on my to-do list, but the button stayed on my mind. Somehow that button represented happy nostalgia: twenty years of marriage, family, and kids being almost all grown up.

Of course, all this symbolic button thinking took place amidst the back drop of crazy, tragic things happening in Boston and all over the world.

But I had the luxury of thinking about that button.

And then this weekend we had our own bit of crazy to deal with, when some neighborhood kids thought it would be funny to rig up what looked like a homemade bomb on the steering wheel of my daughter’s car.

My daughter drives a retired Crown Victoria police interceptor and while we wondered if this thing in her car was a stupid prank, we also couldn’t help but worry whether this contraption rigged not only to her steering wheel, but attached to the door and the outside mirror, was some threatening message aimed at the police.

So we called the non-emergency police line and an officer came to the house. He was perplexed, cautious, and called his supervisor…

Who then called the bomb squad.

And then began the process of securing the roads around our neighborhood.

And then an officer asked us if we wanted to leave our house because this could be a very dangerous situation.

At this point, one of the kids responsible, came over and confessed. My daughter instantly burst into tears. She was relieved, but very hurt someone wanted to purposefully scare her like that.

I was mad. Because while it may have been a joke–and everyone was safe–our fear had been REAL.

You may think what I did next is a strange reaction, because while the bomb squad took the stupid contraption out of my daughter’s car (they still had to consider it a threat until they knew otherwise), I went inside the house and sewed the button on that tux jacket. I didn’t know what else to do with my confusion, my anger. Maybe because I’d been thinking about that button all week, that button somehow become some sort of fastener for my thoughts. It helped to ground me.

I mean what do you do when you get tangled and tripped up by the web of someone else’s stupidity?

You can’t control it. You can’t change their thinking. All you really can do is control your own actions (and somehow resist a response that might make you a contributing member to the spectrum of stupidity).

So I shifted my focus to the things that ground me.

Turns out, one hand me down tuxedo, plus one button, equals lots of love and support.

prom smile borrowed tux_opt

My son wearing his dad’s wedding tux.

 perfect troll face goes to prom_opt

The “perfect troll face” goes to prom. 🙂  My family grounds me, but also lifts my spirit. 


And because I couldn’t find a great quote for this post, I’m sharing this absurdly funny one.

funny quote computer beat me at chess_opt


What grounds you when your world gets shaky? 

Have a great week,

67 thoughts on “The Heart of the Matter: What Grounds You?

  1. Sewing on buttons and mending tears gives us the sense, illusory though it may be, that we can fix things. We need to feel we control at least a small part of our lives.

    Sorry to hear about the scare at your house. I, too, would have called the police. In fact, I did years ago after getting a phone call filled with threats delivered in robotic voices. Turns out the threats were quotes from action movies beloved of teenage boys, and the boys thought they were being clever. They learned a lesson the hard and humiliating way, just as your daughter’s friend did.

    Your son looks great on his dad’s tuxedo. I’m glad your story had a happy ending.


    1. I would’ve been scared by those phone calls too! Back when I was a kid, I remember neighborhood mischief being ringing the doorbell late at night or at the most, some kid throwing eggs at our house. A mess, but not scary. You’re right about wanting to have some sort of control, so true, even it if’s just a semblance. Thanks, Pat!


  2. Your blog post — and how you went in and sewed on a button while the police dismantled the non-bomb bomb. Made me think about the movie “Oh God!” where George Burns shows up in John Denver’s life (in his bathroom, specifically.) And God (aka George Burns) says: “Sometimes when you don’t feel normal, doing a normal thing makes you feel normal. Here… start shaving.”

    And yes, I’m dating myself horribly by knowing that movie …

    Laughter grounds me.
    My family and friends ground me.
    Prayer grounds me.


  3. I really, really REALLY hope those boys were punished by their parents. In the wake of the Boston bombing, they needed to learn a lesson about kindness.

    Your son looks so dashing in that tux!


  4. Wow, what a tasteless prank, given the timing. Like, you, things like sewing my daughter’s dress provide me with great grounding – I was cutting tulle while my husband watched the manhunt on TV. Your son looks great – may he have a great time at prom!


  5. Can’t believe what the kids did during the sensitive time. They act and don’t think about the consequences. Can’t imagine the trouble the kids are in. So glad that it turned out to be a prank. Doing something familar and physical is always grounding. I probably would cook or clean something. I think busy is good to work through feelings. You button was perfect. Your son looked handsome in the photos. Hope he enjoyed the prom.


  6. I’m not sure what grounds me in chaos, but I know it tends to be something simple that I can train my focus on. On a more regular basis, cooking often does that.

    Also, what is it with young people today? (Yeah, I sound like a cranky old guy) All this week, I’ve seen jokes made, fake Twitter accounts, etc, involving what happened in Boston and couldn’t help but think, “when did everything become a joke”?


    1. Well, then that makes me a cranky old guy too. I think so many kids just don’t experience consequences–especially with the internet. They can do it all relatively in private!


  7. So. Not. Funny.

    What the…what? Are you kidding me? What a nightmare. Is this what we can expect in the future? Don’t these kids get it? This is a scary thought. There needs to be a lesson learned from this episode.

    Meanwhile, doesn’t your son look daper? Handsome young man indeed! And willing to wear his father’s tux instead of a rental or new one. That says alot about the fine gentleman you’ve raise Coleen. And boatloads about his parents and the values you’ve instilled in him.

    I cannot get over this incident. You must still be a bit shaken after this kind of weekend. Thank God for the button! I’m sending you a huge hug! You need it! 🙂


    1. Yeah, it really got to me, Karen. Unfortunately, as my kids have grown up, I’ve experienced other incidences that show me some parents just are not involved with their kids all that much. This wasn’t true with all the parents in this weekend’s situation, but I’ve seen it too many times where parents not only don’t know what their kids are doing, but don’t care to give them consequences.


  8. I get it completely and it was the need to feel normal. The need to bring your erratic rhythm back down. Those stupid kids have no idea. I can’t believe they would do such a thing. I’m so glad everyone one is physically alright. I hope you all find your mental peace soon. There is never a good time for pranks such as theirs, but right on the tail of the Boston disaster, horrible. Hugs, Coleen.


  9. Those boys need to remember that Karma is a bitch. Stupidity knows no bounds – very true. And I absolutely get your need to be anchored by a button in a world gone mad.

    That’s one handsome boy, Coleen. I hope he has a rocking time at the prom!


  10. Whoah, that’s unreal that those kids were stupid enough to pull a prank like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re billed for the hours spent by the police by bringing in the bomb squad and securing the area. I can imagine the fear you and your family experienced and probably some of your neighbors and the police, too. Unbelievable. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. And the hurt your daughter suffered, I feel for her.

    I love how you focused on that button, how it helped to ground you. I love how your son wore your husband’s wedding tux. He looks so handsome. Great troll-face expression! You picked a good quote. Perfect!


    1. Unreal, that’s for sure. And you’re right, it was a waste of time for the police too. I don’t know what will come of that if anything.
      Thanks, Lynn. That kick boxing quote just made me laugh so much this weekend!


    2. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than just billing them for the hours invested in their little prank. I’m not sure what charges could be brought against them, but I hope that some can…just to give them a taste of their own medicine. What creeps!

      Coleen…your son looks fantastic!

      What grounds me? Trying to organize stuff around the house. That or escaping by reading, or getting involved in a series like Heroes or Once Upon a Time (like a season in a week). 🙂


  11. What a scary thing to have to deal with for your daughter and as a family. What grounds me is doing something simple, something ordinary, something that gives me a sense of accomplishement and like Pat said in her comment, something that gives me the since of fixing something broken. My family ground me as well and faith that there is more.


  12. As a psychologist I understand in theory why people sometimes think it is fun to scare other people, but on a deeper emotional level, I’ve never really ‘got’ it how someone could think it amusing. I’ll bet those boys won’t be laughing for quite some time now.

    I agree with everyone above. Doing something ‘normal’ helps to ground us. And comfort food. For me, it’s tea and toast!


  13. What a scare and a thoughtless thing to do. Thank goodness for the button and it turning out to be just a stupid prank. Your son looks dashing in the tux. *hugs to you and the whole family*


  14. That is such a crazy story, and a stupid thing to do considering all that has happened recently. I would have whupped their butts! It all turned out ok and hopefully they learned a lesson. Also, your son looked dapper in his old man’s tux! Troll face rules!


  15. All I can say is – O M G!!! Who would do such a horrible prank? That is NOT funny. I feel like I need to come over there and kick someone’s ass. Come on – give me a name. Give it to me. I’ll make sure the little punk never does anything like that again.

    Wow. So sorry for all of that drama. But so happy about the button. And how cool that your son was willing to wear his dad’s tux.

    I’m glad everything worked out well for you.

    What grounds me? I remember my mom and remind myself that life is short and to slow down and appreciate the things being thrown at us for either a happy memory or an opportunity to learn a lesson.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  16. Oh. My. Gosh! What a perfectly awful thing to do! Even if the Boston Marathon bombings hadn’t happened, it’s unfathomable that anyone with a heart and a brain would think that was fun or cool or whatever the heck they thought it would be. Goodness, your whole family deserves a big hug! What thoughtless . . . . I could rant forever, but I won’t. They don’t deserve that much attention.

    I am so glad you are all safe and that there are things that grounded you when you needed it, even if it was a button.

    What grounds me? My husband, my kid & grandkids, my dogs, working in the flower garden, a nature walk, and there’s something about a bubbling creek or waterfall that grounds me as well.

    BTW, that’s the handsomest troll-face in a tux that I’ve ever seen. 🙂


  17. Thoughtlessness knows no bounds. It’s through deep thought and the quiet moment you were able to hold yourself together, Colleen. I’m glad you had that opportunity in the middle of so much distress and hassle. I’m even more sorry your daughter had to suffer this cruelty… the worst part is, it probably happened because someone liked her and wanted to get a rise out of her. So now both she and her admirer are even more estranged.

    Sometimes I fear we never learn. But then we have buttons to sew, people to share our thoughts with, words to write… And we learn, we grow and we heal.


  18. I’m not a Mom or a parent but I really dug your writing, the structure of the story! I like the way you began with the button and ended with the button, and I never thought a button could be a symbol to help you get through the roller coaster ride of that prank. If I ever do become a parent, blogging might be a good way to hold down the fort and process. Cool beans Colleen.


  19. Oh my. Did the kids get arrested? They should have. At least put in handcuffs, hauled down to jail and made to sit there for awhile and REALLY think about what they did. Some community service would be good for their souls too, plus keep their obviously bored hands busy doing something constructive. Pranks are one thing, but this was way over the line. Just not funny. Threatening a life is never funny. I don’t blame you for going to sew on that button…not sure what I would have done but doing something normal like that let your heart rate come back down and kept you from killing some kids which is probably a good thing 😉


  20. Such a relatable experience, Coleen, and sheesh, scary. I’m so glad that you found calm in the storm, and that all panned out well. Talking, crying and music often ground me. And I agree with what you said about karma. Rewards coming your family’s way. 😉


  21. Knowing my kids are watching – that’s what grounds me. It doesn’t always work. I still sometimes do the wrong thing. But at least I try. My backup is cheese pizza, by the way.

    It’s cool that you wrapped the instinct to “contribute to the spectrum of stupidity,” as you so eloquently said, in a sewn button. Sure beats keeping the line of bad decisions rolling.

    Putting you in my Feedly … I really enjoyed this.


  22. Oh, Coleen, really??? Please tell me this prank occurred before the Boston thing. If not, how can kids be so thoughtless and insensitive? (don’t answer)

    I hear you about the button, though. It’s true. All we can control is our little realm, but I think if we do the whole paying it forward, maybe that can change things? Be the change? I don’t know.

    LOVE that quote–LOLOL! #steals ❤


    1. Paying it forward is a good thing too, once you get your bearings! 🙂 There really is so much stupidity and insensitivity everywhere, I just try to focus on (and hopefully contribute to) the good. 🙂 Thanks, Leigh!


  23. I am stunned into disbelief that those kids would even think that was funny on a regular day, but after Boston? And to your sweet daughter? I sincerely hope they police had a nice little ‘chat’ with them and their parents. My heart goes out to you and your daughter. She must be mortified and heartbroken. Those are supposed to be her friends! What jerks.

    I would’ve reacted the exact same way. By sewing that button on, you were taking back control. Doing something tangible with your hands, your heart, your soul. You were, literally and figuratively, stitching your life back together. It amazes me how we, as mothers, can keep it totally together in times of crises with a calm exterior when internally we are freaked beyond all measure. Even now, far away and safe at my computer I feel your anxiety and ache for you. I am so very, very glad you are all safe and it was ‘just’ a prank.

    And boy howdy! Does your son look awesome in that tux! He is such a sweetheart. Without family to ground us, we’d be lost at sea, wouldn’t we? Your family is super amazing. I sure hope I get to meet them someday. Either you need to travel out West or I need to head East, but we need to make this happen. Hugs, my friend!


  24. Gee, I am kind of speechless that those teens didn’t reflect more on the obvious insensitivity and stupidity of the prank! I would also have done something completely practical or gone for a run to let off my fear and anger! Your son looks GREAT in his dad’s tux! I love how that button symbolizes so much.


  25. THANK YOU FOR THE SHOUT OUT! Great story – kids do the darnedest things, the kid was joking, but he wasn’t thinking and in light of all that happened last week. I think it is cooking and serving my family. I love to cook and I learned from my mom. My daughter, O, and I are in Houston to visit her for her 75th birthday and she doesn’t cook much anymore, but she inspired me to learn and love to cook ( and eat of course). when I get stressed, I cook or clean the kitchen, weird but it works. I hope your son had a great time at the prom, he looked great!


  26. B’Shert. I like that word. That’s exactly how it is that I find myself here, and on top of that, I already know and love Clay! Small blogging world.

    As for this “prank” – OMG! What on earth were those kids thinking, in this day and age, to fake a bomb scare??? I admire how you handled it. Well done.

    p.s. Your son reminds me of Andy Samberg.
    p.p.s. I LOVE Emo Phillips!


  27. I really truly hate what passes for a joke these days. That’s not humorous, it’s hurtful and cruel. I hope the police gave those kids a stern talking to and that the parents punished them. Otherwise, their next “joke” may physically harm someone.

    I think you handled the situation really well. Your son looks so handsome!


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