Sunday, January 31, 2010

Looking Back Over a Decade

I couldn't have written a book with these kinds of twists and turns in it. Ten years ago I was 32 years old and a single mom with three young kids, and no clear cut plan on how I was going to provide for them. I had big dreams of international travel, and a hope that my future life would be brighter than where I had just come from. Oh, and I had big hair.

About the same time I was hired as head of HR for PowerQuest, I began one of the happiest periods of my life. I was paying the bills, the kids were a real joy to raise, I loved deeply, and I fulfilled a life long dream of traveling the globe. I was able to travel through Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Africa and found a passion for the people and land of of Argentina. I remember sitting in church one day as they were talking about daily trials and thinking, "I must be lucky. I feel like life is near perfect." I knew it wouldn't last,but it was a special time for me and my little family. And I didn't have big hair anymore. Just hair in many different styles and colors depending on my mood.

The next 5 years were a blur. I worked ALOT--too much. I met and married Kevin who has been my partner and best friend through challenges I never could have anticipated. Little kids turned into big kids. Little problems morphed into big problems. The way we got through it was just a lot of committment, a healthy dose of patience and learning to laugh instead of cry. My hair got better, my wrinkles got worse.

Even though the past few years have been hard, I have learned to appreciate the compensatory blessings that came our way: Our children our alive and happy. I have almost concluded my degree in Art. I have found great joy in simplifying my life. I am beginning to trust love again. I am a kindler and gentler version of the me I used to be.
In a decade, there are ways I haven't changed. I still have to read the paper before I do anything else each morning, I still reach for "impossible dreams" (and sometimes one of them comes true), and I find my solace in the outdoors adventuring down new roads and discovering new rivers.

I have changed in other ways. I sag more in all the wrong places (which drives me crazy). I am less worried about the future and have a lot more fun in the moment. I am careful with love. And I'm getting better at letting go, whether it's about letting my kids choose their own path, realizing there are things I can't change, or forgiving myself for a hundred things I could have done better.

In my 30's I wanted to climb a ladder of "success" and it was all about growing and stretching. In my 40's it's about slowing down to savor the moments as they come and becoming comfortable in my skin. I am less interesting in achieving for myself and more interested in seeing my children achieve and wanting to reach out to others.
And for the record, I stopped caring that much about what my hair looks like. You can love or leave it.