Perhaps that’s true, but the tears still flow – for joy, for fear, for sadness, for guilt – and it all stems from breaking out of my comfort zone, headed toward new paths, leaving behind that which I knew so well. The urge to go back is strong at times. Some days I feel like I’m in over my head, swimming in unfamiliar waters. It can be scary at times and exhilarating at others.
This journey that started a few months ago has been an odd mix of freedom and bondage. I’ve had the freedom to pursue goals in Los Angeles with the determination of a locomotive, yet a part of me is still tied to old habits and beliefs I embraced in Idaho. If you can imagine that one… yeah, I’m feeling like an emotional Gumby being pulled apart.
I ain’t gonna lie. It hurts terribly to be apart from my boys. This time away from them stretches my emotional boundaries farther than I ever thought possible. Those days when my boys text me “I miss you :(” are the hardest on my heart. I battle the “being there now” versus the “paving the road for a better parent, a better me, a better future for us all.” But the same guilt that causes me to pause and question my reasoning is the same guilt that motivates me to push forward. It’s a guilt that won’t let me stop until I fulfill the promises I’ve made. And quickly.
~“Strong is what happens when you run out of weak.” ~
I’m much stronger now, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The softer edges have once again sharpened, but in a different way. I’m decisive and quick to rid myself of that which doesn’t serve me anymore. Every moment is motion forward. And when the time is right for my boys, they’ll walk beside me, albeit on their path, and hopefully I’ll have done one or two things that they can learn from.
Besides… I can’t turn back, because I know too much. I know I have focus. I know I have perseverance. I know I won’t cave under pressure. I know that by stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m expanding the boundaries exponentially. I know “fear” is no longer a part of my vocabulary. I know I can step into the thick of things and figure it out. I know what I’m capable of by the progress I’ve made and the people I’ve met. I’ve seen the true me. It’s the me I want to show my boys. It’s the me I want to show the world.
Hang on, because the ride is far from over…
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Sometimes it’ll hit you like a freight train, sometimes it will just slide on by like the scenery outside the window as we drive from one milestone of our lives to the next. Sometimes you see it coming a mile away and you prepare for it. Whatever way it happens, the realization that change had actually come about might have us stepping back and looking around.
I’m usually oblivious to change until it has long passed me by. Last week on a drive to the waste management station (aka “the dump,”) it hit me. Change had happened, and in my attempt to just go with the flow, I missed the beginning and found myself smack in the midst of it.
“Look, buddy,” I’d said to my son. “How pretty is that?” The road to the local dump runs along the shore of a beautiful bay, a smooth-rock beach that we used to hang out at everyday during the summer.
“We haven’t been there all year!” my son said.
He was absolutely right. Summer here in north Idaho has come and gone and we’d never even been down this way.
I love this bay. Not only because it is a short two miles from our house, but even on the hottest holiday weekend, we could always put down our towels with plenty of personal space between us and the other locals. On this particular day, the sun was dropping tiny diamonds on the water’s surface and there wasn’t a sunbather, dog, or child in sight. The shoreline called – no screamed – for me to pull over and enjoy what we once shared. Or maybe it was my son who screamed that.
Instead, I playfully waved to the water, trying to make light of the regret that pushed my foot down on the gas pedal. Must. Move. On. Do Not. Look. Back. It was the only way to stop from kicking myself for the days we will never get back.
But as I drove up the dusty road to the trash depot, I remembered why we didn’t hang out at the bay anymore. It wasn’t because I was neglectful or too busy to take the time to play. It was because life had changed from one month to the next. For the last five years I’d worked from my house and I always made sure I’d finished my work before school let out. The boys took the bus home and, with the afternoon free, we went for hikes or hung out at the lake almost everyday.
This year my work and the boys’ social, school, and sports activities took us into town six days a week, so the bay had to be left behind. We shifted strategy and hung out at the lake in town, rode our bikes down different paths, ate out more, and because of this change, we found different ways to play and other activities to fill our afternoons.
But none of us had even noticed the shift. Our situation took a detour and we just followed the signs. Now, had I taken the trash to another facility, the one that we normally go to, we wouldn’t have seen the bay and never would have missed it at all. We were too busy going with the flow to notice. So, yeah. With my oldest graduating in two more years and with my youngest following in his footsteps, there are going to be plenty of changes for all of us. We’ll breathe it in, adjust our course, and love every minute. And there will be no regrets.
Because change is good.
Because life is good.