It’s been about a year since I packed up my life to move back in with my parents.
I think it’s interesting the power we have to tell our own stories, and the power we give our stories simply by how we tell them.
For example, I could share with you that my journey to pack up my life, drive across a good section of the country, and chase a crazy dream went something a little like this:
Adventure awaits. I wrote this at the top of my classroom white board my first year of teaching. It was a reminder to me and my students that it was okay that life was unscripted – and the journey itself would be our great education. After four years of championing tiny dreamers, and writing on the side, my little dreamers began to champion me to pursue being a writer. I knew that for me to really take a chance on this dream, I would have to leave the classroom. That decision was not an easy one. I had invested a lot of time and a ton of finances into the decision to be a teacher – and I had fallen head over heels for the kids. But with uncanny faith, I took a risk, jumped off a cliff, and embarked on the journey to an impossible dream. <dramatic music> And oh, what a dream. <Morgan Freeman voiceover of inspiring phrases> There were challenges. <cue gospel choir> There were triumphs. <montage of old baby photos> And at last, there was great victory. Adventure awaited, indeed. <applause and whistles>
OR… I could tell my story like this:
I quit my job and wondered if I ruined my life. With my savings quickly depleting, I shoved a lifetime of memories into a 2006 Honda Civic and prayed it’d make it over 4,000 to a bed I could rest my head on. I woke up in a daze, 35, living with my parents again, and wondering if I had in fact forsaken security, and possibly sanity, to become a writer? For the next six months I routinely broke down sobbing. <cue the violins> Mostly in my car, or in my room on my birthday, or while I tried to teach myself how to build a website or when cat photos got more likes than the post about that book I took 7 years to finish. <cue Sarah Mclachlan and images of slowmo animals> And then I went broke and began to believe I was a failure at all things –teaching, writing, love, adulting. <it begins to rain> I had a Master’s Degree and couldn’t find a job to save my life. <thunder> I began to eat worms.
How easily we play the hero or the victim. How often our stories follow the attitude we wear. The truth is, both stories are on point. Except maybe the worm thing. Life is an interesting mix of major and minor chords. Do you feel me?
For many months, it was a rough road. My inner journey was really the instigator and back bone to the Restlands series. And the series was my way of processing both the pain and the pricelessness of this season. But throughout this readjustment to life anew – there were moments. Really quiet ones that would run off and hide if I was too loud or too fast or too distracted to take notice of them. Each was laid before me like a tool to begin to build my life again and to awaken my heart.
Moments of joking with my nephews or drinking tea before bed with my mom.
Moments of laughing with my sister or catching a movie with my brother.
Moments of slow mornings enjoying coffee and rain.
Moments of new found family and friends, choosing love and community.
Moments of writing and encouraging others to dream.
And as I began to fall in love with the little moments, I fell in love with the bigger moments, and then the season as a whole became a dream come true – even with the occasional tears.
Moment by moment, gratitude has reconstructed my story.
I am not the hero nor the victim – I am simply a willing participant through it all. In every moment, looking for joy, looking for hope, finding reasons to smile and breathe deep and be abundantly grateful to be alive.
I’ve noticed in this last year that as gratitude became my new song, I found Papa waiting in all of my moments, revealing to me I wasn’t crazy. That He was trustworthy and I hadn’t ruined my life. He was fighting for my dreams more than I was. And I think no matter where I go or what I do, gratitude will tell me the same story: that He is good, he is present, and that with Papa, adventure is always waiting.