February 22, 2010

Change Has Found Me

Ten years ago when we moved back to Houghton, NY I thought we would be here forever. I would have never guessed in college that I would return to Houghton. I always wanted to live near the beach. It took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that I would live in the country, 45 minutes from major restaurants, an hour and a half from a mall, no stoplights, one grocery store, no (besides Subway in recent years) chain restaurants. I never imagined that I would have goats as pets or raise chickens. I never imagined living in a place where you could leave your keys in the car and house unlocked. Where Dan the UPS man and Matt the mailman actually come inside your house to leave your mail/packages on your table.
In the last several years I began to accept that we would be in Houghton for the long haul. I felt that if Ben was content in his job, we would stay here. When my grant funded program ran out, I would simply find another job. I began to limit my faith in my abilities and settle. I also began to limit my Faith. In doing this, I lost part of me.
Then one day Ben came home and told me that when I look for my next job to look at what I want, where I want. He was willing to move for my job. This was something I never imagined him saying and (I am not sure why) I never suggested. (All of that is another story for some other time.)
Fast forward to the now. We are headed back to Savannah, GA in a few weeks where I will be vice president of Union Mission's Employment and Training Center. Union Mission provides shelter for homeless men, women, and families, short and long term housing assistance, health and dental care, behavioral counseling, substance abuse programs, lifeskills training, job training; and employment assistance. I worked at UMI in 99-00 and have always yearned to return.
I have worked with some great people in the last 10 years, but none compare to my boss at Union Mission- and I don't just say this now, I have said it throughout the years. I have never worked with someone as passionate, bold, fair, honest, visionary, and unique as Mike. I cannot think of any other president/CEO I would say this to outright or about, but I love the man. He inspires others simply by being himself.
This move is more than just a change in geographic location for me. I have regained my zest for life. I feel more alive, bold, confident, and exhilarated than I have in a long time. I have trusted more in God and explored my Faith on much deeper levels than before. I have dared to dream and have found a greater reality than in my dreams.
I cannot discredit the 10 years we spent in Houghton. I believe that for that time we were suppose to be here. I am just glad that we both knew when it was time to explore what's next. I think fear often hinders us in even thinking "what if?"
But when we let go of fear and embrace the possibilities, we may find something even greater-- I was able to find me again. And it feels great, really great, to be so alive.

February 2, 2010

Thoughts on Grandma

My grandmother passed away today. Sadly the last time I saw her was at Pop's funeral in 1995. Soon after he passed away she moved to Hawaii to be closer to two of her children and her youngest grandchildren. I have thought about her often in the past, but somehow never connected with her personally again. No excuse makes the lost connection right.

So when this news came today, I felt. For our lives are filled with relationships and regardless of the length of time or if they are current or past, they all leave us feeling something. The complexity of feelings is often hard to explain, but we know we feel something, which is where I am today.

There are many interesting stories surrounding my Grandma’s life that I do not dare try to figure out what is fact or fiction. Instead I’ll focus on what I knew.

When I think of Grandma, I smell coffee. I can remember walking into their farmhouse and it smelled like coffee.

I can also remember writing something while at her house and her telling me to write it again… slower and neater…… sadly I still have sloppy handwriting.

I remember the red and white lottery cards she would give us to fill out each time we visited. We would get to choose our favorite numbers and fill in the little circles on the card so Pop could take them to the store.

I remember her huge ornate antique beds that I would get to sleep in when we spent the night. You had to have a running start to jump up into the bed and you were engulfed in fluffy softness when you landed. I remember pretending I was a princess.

I remember her house filled with antique couches, chairs, desks, tables and a player piano. Treasures that I never really saw as unique, but now wish I had. I remember her visiting once and saying how my cousin made her listen to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard on the way to our house. And I remember her telling me…”You know that song is really not talking about sugar, right?”

I remember she completed her GED in her 60s.

I remember visiting her while Pop was in his last stages of cancer and painting her toenails for her.

I remember hugging her at Pop’s funeral without realizing that would be our last goodbye.

As 2010 approached I vowed to really live this year without regrets, letting fear not hold me back from asking, moving forward, or trying. I promised myself that I would intentionally show others I loved them whether through words, actions, or deeds. With Grandma’s passing today I am even more aware that I need to not be afraid to let someone know I care--whether this is through listening, crying with someone because they are hurting, embracing someone because they need to be touched, saying what needs to be said, laughing, dancing, singing, smiling, shouting, calling or writing.

I will love abundantly, seek to bring joy to others, and offer grace where I can.