Years ago, at a family church camp, we were set to the task of finding one word to describe someone else in the room. I was paired with a friend’s father…someone I didn’t know well but had always liked. He had a really pleasing twinkle about him. His eyes crinkled when he smiled and he had really nice, white teeth. I was probably ten…maybe twelve? I remember being surprised, but deeply satisfied and pleased with the word he used to describe me. His word for me was “happy.” I took his one word description of myself to heart and accepted it as my personal definition.
Lately, I haven’t been unhappy. Not at all, actually! But I haven’t felt like myself and so I’ve been doing a lot of self reflection. Feel free to skip over this post. It won’t have any tutorials or crafty updates. I just feel like, to move forward, in every possible facet of my life, I need to put the self-reflection into words. Plus, you just never know when sharing your own experience might touch someone else in a meaningful way.
For ten years now, my husband and I have imagined ourselves moving to California. He wanted a job that allowed him a creative voice, but not necessarily the only voice. He enjoys teamwork and the companionship and inspiration that comes with working with really talented people. He wanted to work on video games he would like to play and would be proud to show to his children someday. I wanted to be somewhere where we both would have lots of career options. I wanted to be in a city with classes to attend and cultural events to enjoy and share with our kids. Ten years of wishing for it and then, at the end of last year, it happened.
We knew that we would love the Bay area. We knew there would be amazing things to see and do. Other than that, it was hard to imagine what faced us once we’d moved. We were simply going to revel in a decade-long goal reached.
The move was hard, the goodbyes harder, but we knew that, on the other side, things would be perfect. And it’s not at all like things aren’t wonderful here, but the holidays away from our family and friends was sad. Our neighbors complained about our dog and the noise the kids make. We’re already ruining the nice wood floor. Suddenly all these little worries and sad moments started to nag at us and we just started to feel strangely…vulnerable. I’m most comfortable when I’m free of conflict, feel like I’m doing a pretty good job balancing the different parts of my life, and have plans and goals set. I’m a Libra, after all.
Then there was the school shooting.
After that, I walked around in a fog, crying all the time. I’d look over at my four year old boy sitting on the couch and picture him with a bullet in his chest. I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t stop myself.
Everywhere I went I’d lose things. Three of my daughter’s pink blankets just disappeared. On the train. On a walk to the library. I’d follow my GPS and end up accidentally running a toll booth. Suddenly, just going out my front door was dangerous. What mistake would I make next? What could it cost me? Who’s lurking around with a gun? I actually found myself scared of my own shadow on a walk to the movie theater.
For the first time in my life I felt fearful. I’m good with happy. I’m very comfortable feeling sad. I’m used to being moody and I’m the very best at guilt. But I’m not good with fear and I’m not good with violence.
Then New Year’s Eve came along and I realized that, for the past ten years, my resolution had always had something to do with us being in California and I was hit hard with the question, “what now?” Instead of congratulating myself and celebrating all that we’d accomplished to get here I was feeling frightened having not really considered what would be next.
Luckily for me, my Mom arrived on Christmas Day like a big old Christmas present. She came with lots of hugs, with words of pride and encouragement, with helping hands, and fresh eyes eager to take in her daughter’s family’s new digs. And, in showing her how beautiful and fun and full of endless activities this place is, I reminded myself why we’d come. And, after getting off the plane ride she said, “I don’t know how you did that with two kids by yourself,” I was able to say, “Yeah! I did that! Yay me!” I found myself afraid driving down the steep and crowded San Francisco streets, but, once we arrived at our destination she said, “we made it! Good driving,” and I couldn’t help but feel good and feel some of that fear dissipate.
Then Tuesday came along. I scheduled a tour of a school I was considering for Jho next year. Here in California, he is eligible for Kindergarten in the Fall, unlike back in Florida where he’d still have another year of preschool. I was looking forward to the tour…until the morning of. I woke up feeling sick to my stomach and cried like an idiot on my Mom’s shoulder over breakfast. Kindergarten already? School? I wasn’t mentally prepared to think about my son going off to any school full time, much less a school that, albeit sounds really amazing, is in a less than desireable neighborhood, considering what had just happened.
But I cried and I drove there and went inside to find the wonderful place I had hoped to discover. I felt a little fear and guilt lift off me as I drove home. I was on a path to finding my children a new life here, new friends, new goals for us all.
That brought me back to my own goals and new years resolutions. I had so many to choose from. Be a better, more generous friend. Work on making decisions boldly and confidently. Expand my business. Schedule my days better. Take better care of myself. Spend as much quality time as possible with my kids.
I realized, though, that all of those things would be wonderful things to work on, but that, for now, I neede to allow myself a little congratulatory reprieve. To forgive myself for not busting through the gates of 2013 with fervor and vigor. To give myself a little extra time for healing, contemplation, and rebuilding. To read this Bruce Barton quote over and over again until I believe it and absorb it enough to put it into action:
Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.
Now I know what my resolution for 2013 will be: clearer vision, fresh hope, and just maybe some progress…
I know I want to keep creating, keep crocheting, keep crafting with my kids, keep connecting with you here. Thank you for any part you played in helping me reach those 2012 goals and for your patience and support as I figure out what IS next.
I do know that my next few posts will be sharing some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken of some of the prettiest spots I’ve ever seen with amazing people who love me and who I love more than anything. When I remember the amazing past two weeks in that light, with a grateful heart, I can’t help but get my happy back.
Here’s to a 2013 full of gratitude, creativity, clearer vision, fresh hope, progress, and lots of adorable crocheted creations. Here’s to a 2013 free of fear.