I had no idea!

We make choices along with commitments and have no clue how life will look as a result of those choices.  It is not just the damaging ones such as choosing to smoke that can have unanticipated outcomes. Yes, there is plenty of information to support that smoking is bad for you.  However, the long term results of smoking look different on everyone. Choices and commitments that we could all agree to be positive also have drastically different long term effects we can’t possibly prepare for.

About 10-ish years ago after much self reflection, I realized that changes in my relationship with myself were necessary in order to live a better life.  Self-improvement has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Yet that improvement was focused on external things like buying an old house to fix up, getting married, losing weight after pregnancy, physical fitness goals, and financial planning for security.  It was time to take the long-needed journey within to have a better relationship with myself in order to live my best life.

That may sound like a pleasant road with unicorns and butterflies leading the way to a magical land of healthy self-love.  Not even close, it is more like trying to swim in a tidal wave! There are times with great bliss, but there are also incredibly dark spaces that make it hard to breathe. We are stronger than we think we are, but recently I have been wondering when I might be able to catch my breath.  There has been a recent tidal wave of crap that has landed at my feet. Even though it is not my mess, I still have to deal with it while being true to myself at the same time. I shake my head in disbelief as I look skyward saying, “You have my attention.  What would you have me do?”

After making the commitment to live my best life all those years ago, things started to shift immediately.  I try to stay hyper-aware of making sure my choices are in alignment with my commitment to my highest self. As a human, I am prone to fall out of practice from time to time.  In this new way of life, the first thing to change was my friendships. The ones filled with negativity and drama fell away quickly. I simply no longer participated in the drama and then there was nothing connecting us together anymore.  In addition to not participating in drama, I no longer took responsibility for the emotions of others, or for the messes they created. Now that is precisely the decision that changed every aspect of life as I knew it. Yes, it is my responsibility to be respectful and kind to others, but that does not require me to be the doormat.  I finally, decided to stand up from the doormat position, grab the key to freedom that had been under me the whole time, open the door and walk through it.

In doing just that consistently and repeatedly, eventually, every key relationship in my life changed.  Some were for the better. The relationship with my parents and siblings blossomed. Authentic friends and experiences magically found their way into my life unexpectedly.  Simultaneously, the key players in my daily life including but not limited to my now ex-husband, stepchildren, job, where I live, and what car I drove, all vanished away completely and did so almost overnight.  

There was one particular evening about 4 years ago when I reached a point of no return.  The chasm of change became the size of the Grand Canyon with no way to undo what I started 6 years beforehand.  The Universe and God respond to our desires. We start a chain reaction with our thoughts, emotions, and efforts.  Coupled with continuous action results are bound to occur over time. There should be a warning that flashes before our eyes as we approach the point of no return.

On that particular evening, there was a conversation that resulted in feeling like I had been punched in the gut. I remember folding forward and sobbing the ugly kind of cry.  No words came out of my mouth as the verbal attack continued. Even though I no longer took responsibility for the mess and emotions that belonged to others it did not mean that the other people were supportive of that.  Actually, I found the opposite to be true. That evening was awful, to say the least. I managed to hold my hand up to signal, “STOP”. With much effort, I was able to end the conversation and leave the room. All I wanted was a tall glass of wine, a box of tissues, and my bed.  During the walk to my room, my daughter saw me and rushed to my side. Sadly, she had witnessed events like this over the past several months, but this one was different. She pulled me into her room and hugged me saying how much she loved me. No child should see their mother in this state, but there was nothing I could do to hide it now.  I gathered myself and said, “I believe that when you take steps to be your very best self the universe responds to guide you there. I just did not realize that might mean the key players in my current life would leave. I believe this journey is still worth it! I will keep walking toward my highest self.”

Life today as I know it, is completely different than that night so long ago.  Thank God! Surprisingly, there are still messes from the past that bubble up to the present that require my attention.  Standing up for myself sometimes leaves me standing alone. Even though it is not a mess of my creation, because it is laying at my feet, I am forced to deal with it.  Old patterns of fear, panic and sadness automatically arrive, but now I have better skills to deal with it! Love is bigger than anything in its way.

Dear Universe,

I look forward to seeing how this continued commitment to my highest self turns out, but I could use a little breather if you don’t mind.

Sincerely your forever student,

Kristin

 

Family vacation after 40 years

The last family vacation was the summer of my 6th year of life.  We were at Lewes, Delaware beach camping in tents on the sand. I stayed in the tent with my parents while my big brothers had a tent to their own.  Their tent was waterproof, ours was not. Dad and Mom cooked dinner at the campsite nightly. Dessert was a can of fruit cocktail. At that time there was only one cherry in the mix.  It was a mad sword fight of the forks to capture that solo cherry. I am not sure if I ever was successful, yet it was great fun every night!

  Now we are all grown up with grown kids of our own.  The nuclear family and their mates came to this cabin retreat in Boone, NC.  The talk of having a family vacation was to occur Someday.  

Where does the time go?  In the end, does it really matter?  We are here now, enjoying the woods, water and each other.  Shared meals, clinking glasses, stories of love, heartache and support fill the air.  We explore together a new patch of the globe. I am so happy to be all together in this magical place.  Afternoons are filled with reading, hot tub talking, and naps after mornings filled with intense hiking or shopping.  Life does not get much better than this.

On the last family vacation 40 years ago, the big brothers were venturing off to college and early adulthood.  There were many conversations about successful navigation of the next chapter of life. I remember sitting in awe as I had another decade until I would even begin to experiencing that life phase.  Now we sit around the table and discuss the transition to retirement with just as much wonder, worry and delight as we did all those years ago dreaming of adulthood. I am not planning to work full time for another decade; I am slightly behind them in the phase of life too.   Even today, I look forward to joining them in the retirement phase.

A cabin in the woods along the water was something I remember both parents talking about frequently.  Life and death got in the way and we are finally here.  That someday finally became today. Mom and I are the single gals that even out the pack to 6. The sweetest part is that this spectacular cabin is owned by our cousin.  We can’t help ourselves from remembering our youth altogether. That cousin joined us one summer during our beach vacation in tents.  That particular year the VW bus broke down and extended our vacation unexpectedly.  All the kids were delighted!

As a child, I wanted to hurry up and join my brothers in the phase of life where they were.  Now in middle adulthood, we have come to a similar place in life with adult children.  They are wonderful advocates as I navigate life slightly behind them.  There is an unfair advantage that I am fortunate to experience.  Finally, they don’t consider me the annoying little sister too often.  It is amazing to reflect on how the last 40 years has played out for all of us.

Who knows what the next family vacation will have in store for us.  I just hope it is not in another 40 years, or it may have to be in a nursing home!  There is nothing quite like the sound of family laughter to lift your spirits.  This time together as a nuclear family plus spouses has been spectacular.  5 days is the sweet spot of time together.  2 of the days are filled with travel while 3 days are dedicated to adventure. 

Our unforgettable moment will forever be the 5-foot long black snake on the windowsill of my brother’s room.  You have never heard so much screaming and laughter.  I was alerted to this snake and walked up the stairs all confident.  I mean, it’s a harmless snake, right?  I walk in the room to take a look as I hear my brother say it’s at least 5-feet long.  My eyes spy the snake as my brain takes in the information of the size.  Before, I know it, I am on top of the chair yelling at the top of my lungs, “Holy Shiiiiiiit!” Next thing I know I am in the kitchen on top of the cabinets as the ladies in the house are running out of the room.  Good thing the brothers were calm with a plan to remove the snake in a box safely.  

We have not stopped laughing since!

Cheers to the Family,

Kristin Springfield

The first week on a new job is like….

The first week of a new job reminds me of the first week of every semester in college.  The first day brought excitement and hope.  By Wednesday, I am crying in the corner and think I have made a serious mistake in life choice.  Then Friday comes with the gift of two days off to try to get my shit together again.

In college, the first week is when I would receive all of my syllabi for each class.  My organized self would promptly add EVERY task to a calendar.  By the end of the week, I was losing my mind with panic feeling like there was no way in the world I could get all of those tests and projects completed and actually get to class on time.  I would be completely overwhelmed, tearful and feel awful.  That is when my Dad would just happen to call to check in on me.  He certainly got an earful of words that could barely be understood through the tears.  With his very logical mind, he would talk me off the ledge of quitting college and remind me of my worth.  At the end of the call, I would feel better, for my parents were the people I want (ed) to be proud of me.  Mom and Dad would tell me how much they loved me and reassured me I could finish the tasks since they were spread out over 3 months not 3 days!

We would laugh about these phone calls after I made it out of college.  That first-week hell is probably one reason why I never wanted to go back to school. I was determined to work my ass off the first time around so I never had to feel the way the first Friday of every semester felt.

I have a ridiculously high expectation of myself.  I want to be efficient, productive, helpful and certainly not a burden to anyone. Once I achieve that level in anything, I work very hard to stay on top of everything so life flows as smooth as possible even in the face of change.  I have not felt that first Friday of college feeling in such a long time, I forgot how crippling unreason self-expectations can be; until this week.

I started my second assignment in my traveling OT life.  By the end of the 2nd day, I was on that familiar ledge of college.  I went to a local exercise class (Yoga sculpt by AMT) that is certain to have me sweat out everything I have in me in order to help reset.  It worked the day before, why wouldn’t it work on this day?  Well, that is not how it went.  The instructor shared a message about being enough as you are in this moment.  The tears started to build behind my eyes.  Then she played a song where the singer told a story of wanting to stop by someone’s house to tell them how much he loved them and believed in them.  That was it for me.  The person at that moment I wanted (needed) to stop by and talk with me was my dad.  Much like those first Fridays of each semester, I needed to know that I was doing a good job, that I am loved, and that I will do well in the end as long as I give myself a break.

Sadly, I could not have that conversation with him except in my head, for he passed in December.  It always surprises me when I miss him the most.