New Castle News

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March 18, 2013

Lisa Madras: You know what burns me up? A passion!

NEW CASTLE — What gives your life meaning?

On the surface, it's tempting to list all the obvious things: your family, your job, your volunteer work. These things all give our lives meaning, but deep down inside each of us there's a burning.

You know what it is. It's that thing that gives you that swelling feeling in your chest and a fire in your gut every time you think about it. It compels you instead of you compelling it. When you think about that one thing, it consumes you like fire.

My friend Bernie laughs at my imitation of the Alicia Keys song "Girl on Fire." Not because I'm such a terrible singer, which I am, but because I break into a full song-and-dance routine at totally inappropriate places like the grocery store parking lot and the public library. I can't help myself, though, because the song's become my personal soundtrack, and baby, when I'm on fire, I'm on FIRE.

At those moments, I'm burning a new path in my very own worn-out tennis shoes (pretending they're stilettos), strutting through embers and shooting sparks out of my fingertips.

My son feels that way about being in Civil Air Patrol (well, minus the pretending he's in stilettos part.) I have to admit that I never saw that one coming. Although built like an NFL linebacker, this kid had no interest in anything physical or regimented and had a real tendency to lean toward the nerdy side of things (just like his mama.)

On a fluke, he attended last year's open house with a buddy, and came back a completely different person.

As a mom, I couldn't hope for anything more for my child. When he puts on that uniform or studies the CAP literature, he's about on fire as he's ever going to be about anything. (On a totally random and self-serving side note: CAP's open house is this Thursday night at the Armory. If you think your child might have any interest in this program, PLEASE bring them by — you just might be making the best decision of your life! Check out to see what it's all about.)

He's a lucky kid to have figured out his fire so early in life. I'm 40 now, and most days I'm still confused about what my true meaning is, even though I have a wide range of things that set me on fire. I guess that's good enough for now, and in all honesty, maybe it is my calling to have more than one. As long as there's something, and as long as I do something with it, that's all that matters.

"Oh, she got both feet on the ground, and she's burning it down. Oh, she got her head in the clouds, and she's not backing down ... this girl is on fire."

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