2015: My Year

Someone told me last week “2015 has really been your year.”

It stopped me dead in my tracks.

This year, my year? You are joking right. Let’s look at the scoreboard.

This year where every hope and dream I had for the future was set on fire, and the winds of change swept up what ashes remained and scattered them until they were just distant, bizarre memories of someone else’s life. This year of letting go, of turning pages, of closing books. This year of broken promises and the understanding that maybe I am not kind or compassionate or selfless. This year I broke open my life and dug out the rot with my bare hands and vowed to build something new in its place. This year I can count my losses and they are staggering. I lost people. I lost friends. I lost family. I lost dreams. I lost the life I never thought I’d lose.\

On Monday afternoon I picked up Maggie and we started southward. I looked in my rearview mirror and caught her looking back too. 12308451_10206545222362442_2177300515968044319_n

I have put on a brave face through this season of change. But seeing her looking out the back glass struck a nerve: this was the final move. As I pulled onto I35 south, I realized then more than ever that Oklahoma was no longer my home. The home that I had built was no longer where I belonged. I never dreamed that day would come. Perhaps I am not content yet with a past I regret, but life is moving on and I too must go with it.

I looked in the mirror this morning. What I saw staring back at me was resilience.

I am older now. Wiser and kinder now. I have a thousand times the capacity for compassion, and yet half the capability for sympathy. I have twice the heart, and less than zero patience. I am comfortable in my weakness and I have found the most amazing source of strength.

I looked in the mirror this morning and staring back at me was the glimmer of the woman I always wanted to be. I curled my hair and put on red lipstick and black dress and some power shoes, and I drove to a meeting to do a job I absolutely adore. I talked to friends that through the course of this year I have chosen as my family. These friends this year pushed me and picked me up and pushed me again. Through the darkest days of my life they sat beside me and said simply “I will love you at your darkest, and we will rise again.”

I looked at this woman staring back at me with a few more wrinkles surrounding tired eyes, and I saw so much happiness that for the first time was built upon the solid foundation of my hopes and my goals and my dreams instead of upon the opinions or needs of someone else. I saw independence. I saw what the other person saw when they told me that 2015 had been my year.

I surveyed my week.

I surveyed the month.

I surveyed the year.

I could choose to look at 2015 and tally the long list of things that I have lost, or I can count my blessings and call them by name.

 

2015 has been my year. 2016 will be too.

 

 

Dr Sanders and Veterans Day

sanders

“A lot of us only experience war from what people tell us and what is in the movies. The movies are usually glorified. So I went to war expecting somewhere in between a glorified example from a movie and what my dad had told me from World War II. I just didn’t have any understanding of what it was really going to be like. It did not take long to realize that you are out there 24 hours a day and your main job is to kill people and their main job is to kill you. The only solution I had from seeing human beings being seriously injured or killed right beside me was that I had to not feel anymore. I hardened my heart. I couldn’t get very angry or get sad. I couldn’t laugh too hard. It was only when I came back that I thought I didn’t have to do this anymore, remain without feelings. But when people kept asking for war stories I decided that I had to go back to closing off my feelings. I lived my life thinking I couldn’t get too sad because I might start crying and might not be able to stop. I had to live in a very narrow range of feelings to get through. I spent my whole adult life for 40 plus years pretending like I didn’t have any problems and that I was okay. I’m a lot better now. My therapist tells me to think of it like a Band-Aid. I can rip off the Band-Aid once a year and tell people about the stories. But after that I put the Band-Aid back on and don’t think about it.” (2/2)

Dr. Larry Sanders, Agricultural Economics Professor
Carlsbad, New Mexico

In honor of Veterans Day, I wanted to share some thoughts from my favorite professor during my undergrad program at OSU. Dr. Sanders taught Environmental Economics. The only course work that I had with environmentalist versus animal scientist. It was the best learning experience I had on campus.

Dr. Sanders took my exceptionally narrow and singular view of the word and forced to me think outside of that box. He forced me to stand outside of a problem and to see all the possible ripples that solutions might cause. One particular class discussion about world hunger remains as one of the stand out “Aha” moments of my entire life.

Not only do I want to thank Dr. Sanders for his service to our country and for his dedication to molding young minds, but I thought his quote was powerful. I think he brings awareness to something we all so often overlook-the reintegration of veterans back into society and how they deal with the emotions of what they experienced and how those experiences alter the outlook and course of their lives.

I hope that his story touches someone and encourages them to not wait 40 years to seek help. Life should be spent laughing and crying and living.

I am proud to call him my teacher.

We Begin Again

2015 has been a year of change.

We often forget the period of isolation that the caterpillar must endure to emerge the butterfly. I suppose this is my season of solitude. Life has a way of humbling you when you need it the most.

When I got married in 2012, I was young and blissfully naive. I had no plan, but I had big plans. Husband, career, babies. All the things I thought I was supposed to be accomplishing. I was arrogant. I was ignorant. I was selfish. I was self-centered and judgmental. I was small minded.

2012 bloomed into 2013 which found Tyler and I back in Oklahoma chasing our career goals. I found my calling in “slinging meat.” The ‘Meat Lady’ was born. I understand that it is packed with innuendo and suggestion. I’m okay with that.

2013 faded into 2014 and 2014 smashed into 2015 and then the wheels fell off.

I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. That perhaps hindsight is 20/20 or the divine creator guides our steps or whatever life philosophy to which you subscribe. But at the end of the day, the person Tyler married was no longer the person I was. My goals had changed. We decided to end our marriage. We remain friends, co-parents of Maggie and Thelma, and supporters of one another.

There is nothing quite as humbling or educational as failure. It changes the lens in which you look through life, and the powerful reformation that is found when your life crashes upon rock bottom is transformative.  I wouldn’t wish the process of divorce upon anyone. But I am of the opinion that if more people suffered through a tragic, overwhelming, consuming loss they would emerge from the ashes a more gracious, compassionate and kind human being.

Coming through the process, I frankly am a little skeptical of people who have not lived and died a few times. I like seeing people who have gambled and lost and rebuilt their lives from what was left. I find in them a kindred spirit, bereft of judgement and earnestly interested in helping others move forward in the direction of their dreams.

While 2015 will always be marred by loss, it will also be a statement of resiliency. I began again. As I set fire to the life I knew and struck out again on my own, I learned some powerful lessons. Each probably deserving of a post of their own. I shopped for a trash can with my best friend Katie and had the time of my life in Bed, Bath and Beyond. I experienced the frightening reality that sometimes the world is not what it seems and not everyone has good intentions. I met life changing new friends. I have gone on new adventures. I have a planner full of memories to be made. I wake up every morning excited to go to a job that I adore. I am back doing the things that I love. My life is full of people I love. My heart is overwhelmed.

But my goal for the new blog is to share in the expounded adventures of Maggie, detail my travels, and provide a canvas to remember the places I have been. I have not lost my zest for living or for writing. It was only a matter of time…..but hey blogging world….I am back!