Happy 2023! I hope you’re all having a great start to the New Year. Here I am in sunny (windy) Isla Mujeres, having the most creative spurt I’ve had in many months. 2022 felt like a whirlwind. A rollercoaster of emotions and change that happened so quickly, it felt out of control at times.
I was lost in a sea of change, coming up for breath for a second or two, and then going back to fight against the rolling tide. I ran out of words, of ways to convey how I was feeling. What used to come easy to me – writing, emoting – just disappeared into thin air.
In two days, it will be one year since my sister lost her husband. And a year ago today, I never imagined I would lose my father so suddenly.
Or that I’d be starting a new job. As a leader, it’s no longer as easy as jumping in and applying all the technical skills you’ve learned throughout your career. There’s a brand-new group of people who are looking for you to guide them, change things, make things better. You can’t do that until you earn their trust. That’s difficult. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to get that symmetry in motion.
When my son decided to quit school in his junior year at college, I was devastated. For weeks, I couldn’t seem to get out of my own head, playing and replaying what had gone wrong and what we could have done as parents to encourage him to keep trying, to keep going despite the damage two years of isolation had inflicted on his mental health. I then realized that having a mother like me – driven, relentless, always running at full speed – surely would have been added pressure for him to deliver what he thought we expected. Why was I feeling like a failure when it wasn’t about me at all? Someone said to me the other day – we used to tell young people, “we hope you are successful”. Times have changed. These days, we should be saying, “we hope you are happy”.
In the midst my life’s many transitions, I began to find the good lesson in everything that’s happened. My son was home safe, and I would be around to help him recover. The people in my new job were the kindest I’d ever met. I got to see friends in Paris, meet my friend’s new baby named Nolan. Kristoffer and I released our second book in October, and we were happily surprised to see so many friends and family members at our book signings. Our script is finished, and they are now in the process of packaging it – choosing our actors and actresses was fun!
Losing loved ones is the ultimate reminder that life is so brief. You blink and you miss it. And then it’s too late. When you live life knowing that God’s goodness gives and takes, you hold on to the best of what you have for as long as you can. COVID has taught us that a life well lived can’t be measured by time. To accomplish this, I’ve walked away from everything that no longer brought me joy. I stopped trying to fit into places that weren’t for me. I stopped trying to be in the cool author’s club. I started rewarding myself for my professional success (and stopped feeling guilty about it). I started to become more selfish with my time and my efforts. My circle is smaller now and I’ve never been happier.
At lunch yesterday, a very talented saxophonist played the song “My Way” right as I had settled into my seat for lunch. It was my dad’s favorite song. In fact, we played a video of him singing that very song on karaoke only a few weeks before he passed away. The tears flowed easily, the pain of missing him and my mom and the realization that my sisters and I were now orphans tore me apart at that very moment.
But after all those tears, I heard him loud and clear.
More than anything, he’s assuring me that he is here with me.
He’s telling me that he supports me. That he believes in me and that he’s proud of me and the decisions I’ve made in the year that passed. He wants me to keep doing things the way I’m doing them now.