I’m part of a six-week Change Challenge group this summer. My goal, silly as it may seem, is to get up earlier for work. Over the years, I have mastered the five minute shower and the two minute blow dry. I can get up and be out of the house in less than 45 minutes. While I know this is quite a feat, it’s not one that leaves me feeling relaxed and ready for my day. Plus, I am always struggling to make it work on time, which is not terribly cool when you are the new kid in the office.
As we began week three of the challenge today, I got up. Today was the first day I didn’t struggle. My new-fangled alarm clock that is supposed to simulate the sunrise did it’s trick. I got up and got ready; I even had time to make myself a hot breakfast and read my devotional. I got to work on time…only to sit at my desk and have my back suddenly stage a revolt on me. As with most of my pain issues, it came up out of the blue for no real reason. I’ve been popping ibuprofen and vitamins like they are candy and even schlepped to a very sad little pharmacy for some analgesic cream to help me make it through the day.
It’s a Murphy’s Law kind of thing, yet I’ve worked hard to not be a Murphy’s Law kind of person. And so I’m hanging onto my win this morning and trying to get through the day as gently as possible.
Last week was one of those crazy weeks: get up early to run hither and yon, work all day, run hither and yon some more. I also lost a night’s sleep to a little mouse who didn’t realize my home was not the best place to hang out. (He’s since been relocated to greener pastures, though I cannot guarantee that his compadres aren’t still on the premises.) All of this, coupled with a cat who needed minor surgery yesterday and fights like a rabid badger when you try to pill her, has made for a very tired and slightly cranky Tricia.
I know I need to cut myself some slack. I’m working full-time and doing two freelance/part-time gigs on the side plus still settling in from my move. But there is such a huge part of me that just thinks everything should have fallen into place by now, a whole eight weeks later…not so much, apparently. This is not to say that I am not so darned grateful and happy to be here – because I SO very much am, every moment of every day. I just crave routine and balance.
I’ll get there. Right?
This weekend, I had the privilege of watching my friends’ little girl in her spring dance recital. It was a long recital, with many acts before hers. I found myself fascinated with one of the older dancers, who was probably nearing graduation. I was stunned by the resemblance she held to one of my former youth group students; I couldn’t get over it. Yet I knew it wasn’t her; it couldn’t be her. She was a few years older than this girl and had none of the same opportunities. As I sat there comparing the two, a girl I knew and the girl dancing on the stage, I was overcome with sadness.
While I didn’t know the dancer, I did know that she had been afforded the opportunity to take a wide variety of dance classes for many years. She had someone in her life who believed in her dream, who paid for her classes, who got her where she needed to be on time. She had someone who invested in her costumes, her haircuts, her shoes…someone who invested in her desire to be the best dancer she could be.
The girl I knew wasn’t given the same opportunities. She lived on the fringe, battling personal demons from a young age. Her mom was peripherally involved in her life but could barely keep her own together; her father was nowhere to be found. When I met her, she was full of unexpressed rage and pain. She was cutting, drinking and doing who knows what else, beyond the handful of prescribed medications she took daily to keep her hanging onto this world by her fingernails. Child protective services was aware of her but for whatever reason, they chose not to remove her.
She ran with a rough crowd and didn’t come to youth group with any frequency. I did my best to remind her she was loved and cared for when I did see her, always approaching cautiously and gently, encouraging her to share some of her heart with me. She’d occasionally let her guard down with me for a moment before she’d realize what she’d done – and the gates would crash down again. My heart broke for her each time and it broke again this weekend as I watched her very image dance across the stage time and again. We’ve lost touch over the years and I so hope she has found her way. Either way, I hope that she remembers that out here in the world, someone still cares and still believes in her.
A physician I worked with for several years passed away last week. It was sudden – a heart attack, from what I understand. We had traveled and worked together often but didn’t have the type of relationship where we would have kept in touch after I moved to Virginia. Still, when I heard the news, I was taken aback for a moment.
You hear it said when people pass, "Life is short." "Hug your loved ones." "Make sure you never leave anything unsaid – you just don’t know." All these things are true; all should be paramount in our relationships regardless.
But we get caught up in the day-to-day, in the busyness of the business of life. We get wrapped up in and focused on the petty annoyances of life. We get stuck, stalled out in our jobs, relationships, and even more so, on the path to fulfilling our hopes and dreams. How often do we want to do something but put aside that dream for another day: after the kids graduate, after soccer season, after I retire…and then how often do those things come to fruition?
Think for a moment: what is it that is holding you back? Why or how might it be different in a year, two, sixteen? What would happen if you just took a leap of faith and booked the trip? Ended the relationship? Took a class? Took a walk around the block? Updated the resume? What would happen if you truly seized the day? Would your life be richer for it? I’m betting, in no small way, the answer is and could only be yes.