22 years ago I made a decision. It was a significant adult decision; to take a job that required me to move to a brand new place. The plan was to stay there for 5 years at the most. Remember, God laughs when we make plans. Life happened to me and many other significant decisions were made that left me in that same town. Those 22 years are exactly half of my life on this planet, with most of them being in the “grown up“ years.
When I returned from my Tree Hugging Tour another significant and surprising decision was made. I wanted to stay. For many years I had grown tired and disgruntled with aspects of my life. Some of that blame was put on the town. After shedding much emotional baggage, taking a work sabbatical for 7 months, and finally listening to what my heart was saying, my decision was easy. I remade my home here again differently this time. Life is no longer happening to me. I make peace and joy alive in my heart and soul, then life shows up for me to join in with awareness. It is so much more fun now.
That job accepted 22 years ago was at the local hospital. Then as a new graduate Occupational Therapist, I was ready to take on the world and make a difference. Many friends were made in the 11 years of employment there, yet believed I was long forgotten by now. I love it when I am wrong. In the world of therapy there is always a need for an extra set of hands in order to care for all the patients when needed, it is called PRN help. With how I designed my new life in this small town, I now have time to offer that PRN help. I walked into Human Resources a few weeks ago to join the team again. I was delightfully greeted with joy and gratitude while offered hugs to welcome me home. Tears found their way to the surface.
Today was orientation. It is the same and yet so different. Peers from the past are now leaders. I celebrate their advancements! I received my badge today and was taken aback on the picture in comparison to my picture 22 years ago. I am the same person yet so different. I still want to make an impact, yet in a very different way this time. Offering support and a helping hand while bringing a smile to someone’s face feeds my soul! I am fortunate to have a license that allows me to do that within the same place my early significant decision leads me to.
It is the last day of 2016, and I reflect on the last 12 months. I notice that in general we highlight our accomplishments, gloss quickly over the moments when we made less than optimal choices, and focus on what is next. Today is also the day that all are encouraged and expected to make resolutions for the New Year. Media tells us to lose weight, save more money and get organized. What is rarely discussed is gratitude for the step you are currently on with regards to your life goal.
In the past I tended to stay focused on what I wanted to achieve. While, I was guilty of forgetting to recognize something very important; gratitude for right NOW. For, the exact place I am today is someone else’s dream. Being so focused on the future, I’d neglected to honor the only thing that is real; the present moment. The past is gone and the future doesn’t exist yet. I have an idea of what I’d like to achieve in the future, but my goal is now more vague than the old ones used to be; authentic connection. Yet how that exactly will unfold or what it will include is the mystery. If I had continued to disregard the present I would have missed the wonderful joys of my life today.
Authentic connection showed up today in subtle ways that I would have quickly disregarded in the past; Connection and gratitude for my healthy body. My legs carried me up the steep trail to the summit of Sharp Top Mountain. My lungs took in the fresh air. My heart beat loud enough for me to hear it in my ears. My eyes took in the beauty of Mother Nature. Most importantly, my arms wrapped around the side of a tree while I recited what trees have taught me to do; dig deep into the core for nutrients and stretch to the light for growth. Those simple connections are the dream of someone with poor or fading health. So I stop whining about my cold fingers and sore muscles. For the whining stops the gratitude moves in and expands.
Many of us are in a place that we may not be overjoyed about. Is your current place getting you to where you want to go? If not, have the courage to make a change. If so, then yes you are doing what you need to right now. Either way add gratitude. My beloved daughter is in that strange place between student and adult. She is working in her field but not at her final destination. It is interesting to watch as she navigates this step in her journey. She is grateful for the step, but at the same time is struggling to trust the process while continuing to forward with confidence. I remember being in that place many times in my adult life. Hell, I was just there in early 2016 when I was job searching.
Along my hike today, authentic connection also showed up in a different way. I allowed myself to fully feel in each moment that I am happy, healthy, peaceful, and free. I remember that I am accepted by those who matter, I forgive myself in a way I never imagined possible, and I love myself more today than I did yesterday. I realized that where I am today emotionally, physically and spiritually was my dream 20+ years ago, I just didn’t know how to put it into words. I can’t wait to see what is next for all of us in 2017.
I have a proud mother moment to report. My baby girl has just completed her bachelors degree in Culinary Nutrition! She completed her degree well ahead of schedule, at the age of 20 after 2.33 years of college. Apparently the overachieving quality is alive and well in the next generation. It is a great quality if kept in check. Fortunately, she has support that understands the negative outcomes of unchecked overachieving behavior; me. This education milestone is huge in many ways. Do you remember as a youngster the desire to be grown up and actually done with required school? Then, do you remember the array of feelings that arrived when that day came? I remember my dominant feeling was excited confusion. Entering adult working life for the first time with the training that I just completed in the world of Occupational Therapy at the age of 22 was exciting. It was also confusing because I kept asking, “Is this it? Have I arrived at adulthood? Now what?” Now that I am 22 years into adulthood, I giggle as my daughter, Kenzie, asks the same questions. My response is, “Yes, my dear one, you have arrived! Now it is up to you to make the most out of every day in this new adult world.”
As she was growing up I was fascinated by her ideas of what her adult life would look like. Journaling is one of my regular joyful activities. I expanded on my writing efforts and created a diary of her life journey, which included her ideas and her favorite things over the years. I gifted Kenzie with this journal when she graduated high school. We read the entries together and laughed for hours. One entry in particular stands out concerning what was happening in the world and how she imagined adult life when she was the ever wise age of 5 and 1/4 years old. Enjoy!
October 27, 2001
There has been a great change in our country since I last wrote. On September 11, 2001 the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were bombed by crashing airplanes into them after being hyjacked. Thousands of innocent people were killed. You understand that bad people stole the airplanes and killed nice people. It does not impact your daily life, however you love the American Flag and proudly say the pledge all by yourself now. Kindergarten is going well for you. You love your teacher and are no longer troubled with numbers or letters. Early reading has just begun, and you seem to like it so far. You continue to love your red sparkle shoes and wear them daily!
We went to the LEAF festival in Asheville, NC last weekend. You enjoyed a taste of freedom by attending story telling and then danced in a parade all by yourself. You made new friends with ease and checked in on me every once in awhile. I think you thought you were playing mom for a bit. We took showers in the big communal house for ladies only. You absolutely loved it, and wanted me to turn every shower on so you could run around naked through them all. I agreed to turn on three of them since we happened to be all alone. This pleased you greatly as you squealed with delight. How amazing it is to watch you be so free in your heart, mind and body.
You have so many gifts as a young girl. Your memory is amazing; especially for things you find important and life changing. Apparently having blood drawn was one of those important things, as you talk about the “noodle” that took your blood often. You are very social and make friends with ease. You like to play with all kids, but are definitely feminine by nature. You prefer dresses over anything and struggle to understand why shorts need to be worn under dresses when playing up side down on the playground. It is a daily discussion, but you relent because hanging upside down in a dress is most important to you.
Here are your answers to popular questions
Why is the sky blue? “Because it is”
Favorite color? “Red, I like that color a whole lot!”
Favorite food? “Mac & Cheese”
What is love? “When you love some one. Mommy and daddy love each other, because you fell in love and got married”
Favorite toy? “Beany Babies” : you have about 30 of them
Favorite movie? “All Ariel movies”
Best Friend? “Peyton C.”
When I grow up: “I want to be a teacher and a mommy. I want two kids and their names will be Cornelius and Thumbelina”
You have this wonderful morning ritual that you are certain to tell me and your daddy:
“Don’t talk to any strangers. Just talk to your patients. I will see you when I get home. Daddy, call Mommy and she will call you. I love you!”
I am overjoyed with her education accomplishments. Yet I am in awe of the child that has grown into an amazing woman who cherishes many of the simple joys of life like she did at the age of 5 and 1/4 years old. Keep celebrating the child within as you venture into the life as an adult!
Still celebrating life like a 5 year old