Reflecting on 2018

As 2018 winds down, I figured this was a good time to reflect on the past year.  Time and time again, I believe God sends me messages, through people that come into my life, intended to remind me to appreciate every moment and also, perhaps, take me in a different direction.  The following is just a taste of my look back on 2018. 

This year has brought me the random stranger I met who shared with me that his wife just received news that her cancer was back for the third time 3 days before Christmas.  When I touched his arm to express my care and promised to say a prayer for them, for a brief moment, he was no longer a stranger.  2018 brought me a connection and friendship with a new parent to our school whom I am so blessed to know.  She has made me a better person, friend and frankly made me put more depth into my job.  

2018 started off where I was enjoying a Happy Hour with friends celebrating my belated birthday only to have our world turned upside down the next day.  We learned that one of our students was fighting for his life in the hospital with a brain tumor.  In the short time that followed, our community grew even closer which, looking back now, was probably the student’s doing.  Just a few days after he lost his fight, his parents came by school “to check on the kids” meaning his classmates.  Spend just a few minutes with his parents and you can’t help but have a sense of peace come over you.  They are two of the most grounded, faith-filled individuals I’ve ever met and are simply amazing examples to others.  This tragedy taught me a lesson and brought me a renewed sense of faith and reminded us all how important it is to “just get along.”  

April 2018, I explored the Pacific Northwest with my sister for a quick getaway to Port Orchard, WA (shout out to you Debbie Macomber).  We stayed in a beautiful B & B that overlooked the quaint, coastal town and enjoyed shopping and local wineries.  Both my older sisters and I try to take full advantage of what was instilled in us by our parents….the joy of travel! 

In August, I attended a 40th birthday party of one of my dearest and closest friends.  Guests were not allowed to know who was invited which was pretty cool and unique. I got to witness how all of the people invited knew the guest of honor and I was (and still am) no doubt blessed to be counted among her friends.  She reminds me every day to see the best in life, to laugh and shows me how important it is to stay connected and build community.  Just a mere few days ago brought me my own 40th birthday bash, where I celebrated with friends and family and couldn’t have had a better night (even if my actual birthday came two days later…I’ve already decided I’m celebrating all year long).

While most of us go into a new year with “resolutions” to get organized, be more fiscally responsible, etc…. I’m going to try a different approach.  Granted, I’m probably going to still try to be more fiscally responsible and organized, but I also want to never lose sight of the relationships in my life and enjoy all the little moments.  As cliche as that sounds, it still bears repeating.  We can’t get those moments back so make the most of them and when you have an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, do it.  I’ve also been reminded about the power of prayer…..how much writing a note to someone matters….sending a text to say you’ll get through this…..and to trust in God’s plan and his path for all of us.  

Cheers to 2019!

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What’s in it for me?

Do I really want to go back there?  That was the question I asked myself the other day when I got a phone call from someone who is practically my second mother.  She was describing some issues her daughter was having and reached out to me for help.  “You’ve just always been there,” she said.   Prior to my moving to Oklahoma, her daughter (Lori) and I used to be close-we hung out or talked almost every day.  I didn’t realize how one-sided our friendship was until I removed myself from the situation.  Making that choice was one of the best decisions I have made.  Even though I now live hundreds of miles away, I maintain frequent contact with her Mom.  Her Mom asked me to write a letter to Lori as part a church project.  When I read the request in an e-mail, my gut reaction was “No way- I am done with all of that.”  Her Mom called later that night and we chatted.  During the course of the conversation, I understood why she sought my help and ended up changing my mind.  I no longer feel like I have to fix Lori or let her problems bother me.  Even if I have moved on, I still care about her well-being.

Before beginning the letter, I’ll admit that there was a part of me that wanted to just unleash on her…share every thought that was going through my head.  But that would have served no good to her and this was not about revenge-it was about getting her on a healthier path.  While it took at least 3 drafts, I finally completed the task.  I am glad I chose to go through with it as well.    

I am so blessed to be surrounded by true friends and sincerely want the same for Lori.  This morning at church, the homily discussed wells and the times we need to cover up the bad ones and look for a cleaner well.  As I sat listening to Fr. Jim speak, I smiled.  I was meant to help Lori cover up the damaged well and embark on finding a new one.  God works in mysterious ways and I am grateful he gave me the chance to answer the call.

Picking our Battles

The homily for Ash Wednesday’s service revolved around the beginning of Lent and how Catholics should approach the next 40 days.  Like many others, up until that moment, I was pondering what to “give up” for Lent.  Granted, I would’ve learned to be more appreciative of whatever I gave up come end of Lent.  However, Fr. Jim had another plan for me.  He said perhaps instead of taking the easy road and giving up something like sweets, give up something that really could have a more profound effect like one of the 7 sins: greed, lust, gluttony, envy (to name a few).  As I drove the short 3 minute stretch from the church to where I park for work, I thought about his homily.  The sin that seemed to strike a chord with me the most is envy.   Too often I will find myself wishing I had more in my life-this could be material things or even a relationship.  Lent is a perfect time for me to step back and simply be grateful for what I do have instead of wasting any time on what I wish I had.   No good comes from being envious of other people, relationships, etc…  Why not count myself lucky for having people around me who can set an example for me?  I would much rather focus on the good.  Life’s too short for anything else.  I have been so fortunate to be blessed with not only a great family but wonderfully genuine friends and co-workers.  They make coming to work not only fun but make me feel like I can get through the day because of them.   I have faith that everything will work out….one day, I will no longer get that funny little feeling  of jealousy or envy when it comes to relationships.  My time will come and even if it doesn’t, I won’t let envy blind my ability to embrace any opportunities that come along.

I was reminded this week that just when we think we’ve gotten past the big hurdle, the battle begins again.  We feel defeated and frustrated…like we’re not making any headway or progress.  While easier said than done, we need to trust ourselves by holding our head high and keep forging ahead.  There will be people who will try to create roadblocks for us but we must persevere.