This weekend we will celebrate our country’s independence in a lovely spot in New Hampshire. My parents, my kids, and the grandbaby will all be around to celebrate and enjoy. There will be fireworks, food cooked over an open fire, and s’mores all around. I can’t wait.
It’s hard to believe that last Fourth of July, I was deciding to take a leap toward some changes that would sweep us up in a whirlwind. We had no idea how that decision would play out in our lives. We were taking a leap of faith…
I’ve learned somethings this year. A lot of things…
We are not people who take risks lightly- If there is a scale with wild and free on one end and cautious and careful on the other… we fall solidly on the cautious and careful end. According to psychology textbooks, we might be considered quite risk averse. It is both in our inherent natures as well as collateral damage after years of living as a first responder family. There is rarely a place we can go that my husband, son, or daughter have not seen the worst things that can happen. This perspective takes a toll.
When it’s time to go, you need to go- There have been days that I felt as though I pushed my family off a secure path and into the abyss. I’ve been wracked with guilt, fear, and confusion. I’ve re-battled old demons and found a few new ones hanging around. And yet, I do not regret the decision I’ve made to go. I was losing important parts of myself, I was exhausted, and I was worn down. I needed a break, it was time.
It’s okay to try and fail and move on- I will always be a teacher and a counselor, but that doesn’t mean those are the right job descriptions for me. I tried them out. I doubled back to see if I had missed a turn along the way. I tried on these jobs like a new pair of shoes. Looking for a good fit and a style that fit my life. It was good work, but they rubbed me raw in places and pinched in others. I felt like I was wilting in these new environments. I am proud of this new ability to shift course, make a change, and find something that works better.
My life is speaking, and sometimes I listen- I’ve been pushing forward no matter the cost for most of the past 15 years. I’ve gone forward and up, without considering how these choices affect my life, my relationships, or my sense of self. In the quiet after the drama of the last year, I slowed down enough to listen. Really listen to my life. Where I was unhappy or unfulfilled. Where I was frustrated or angry. Where I was finding comfort and relief. Honestly, I didn’t love what I found. So, I’m making changes. I’m learning the language of my body and soul, slowly.
I’m stronger and weaker than I imagined- In this season I’ve rediscovered the difficult contradiction that makes me, me. I am stronger that I give myself credit for. I’ve faced some dark days with confidence and grace. I’ve leaned into my faith, my people, and my own courage and stood while wild winds threatened my family. I’ve also caved in upon myself and struggled. I’ve lost confidence, wallowed in self-pity, and numbed out to avoid the pain of change and uncertainty. I am humbled by both of these revelations. I thought I knew who I am, instead I find that I am still learning.
Life is uncertain- I like to cross things off my list. I like to finish, master, and conquer things. I don’t like things with ends left dangling. And yet, so much of my life this year has defied these categories. Instead, I am learning to live with open ended things. We began this year by taking on a leap, relying on some certainties… instead we found that the certain things were not. This reality should not be such a challenge. It’s just life. And yet, for me. It is.
In many ways, I feel like I am just beginning again. That this year of change that has swirled around me has left me on shaky knees moving forward. I am not the same woman who walked into this storm. Neither am I weakened by it. I feel ready to walk on. I’ve been fortified by the things I have learned, by the process this has wrought in me. I’m grateful and I am humbled.