If I think about the times that I have been the happiest in my life, it has had to do with people I love the most or successful completion of something that was really difficult, like when I passed to the next swim level, made the Varsity Field Hockey team and the orchestra at band camp, graduation days, marrying my best friend, and the days my children and grandchildren were born.
Sometimes it is challenging to find JOY, especially when life seems to be taking some serious swipes at me. I always tell my children that we need to have “real world shocks” and to ride those worldly waves. The fact is that everyone has junk in their life; things that are challenging, keep them up at night, and are in the back of their minds all the time. My latest “ah ha” is that I am not the only one.
I am naturally a real “go getter”. When I set my mind to do something, I push hard, dig in, and will stay focused to completion. I remember desperately wanting to get to the next swim level that required endurance. I practiced with my brother every time we went to the beach. Nobody told me that I needed to, I just did it. I knew what I needed to do to meet the next milestone and I worked so hard to get there. In High School I wanted desperately to get my letter. In order to get it, I needed to meet the time requirements playing on the Varsity Team. To be honest, I wasn’t very good, but I tried! I practiced running on the track during the off season and took my stick out onto the front lawn to perfect my ball handling skills after supper each night. The only reason why I lettered was because one of my teammates got hurt and I was able to play her position long enough to get my time in. Probably my greatest accomplishment was making the orchestra at band camp, my senior year of High School. For 5 years, I tried out for seating positions, getting closer and closer to 1st chair, using the very same try out piece, fine tuning it every year. I practiced my scales and could do the chromatic scale in my head or my imaginary flute when I didn’t have it to use. After tryouts my very last year, I was bummed to make 3rd chair since only the first two were invited to play with the BEST OF THE BEST in the orchestra. It was my very last try. When the boy who made first chair turned down the offer, I was asked! As soon as I could, I called my mother on the pay phone crying so hard she couldn’t understand me. At that moment, I was the happiest I had been in my whole life. I had been successful and met my goal that was so very difficult to reach!
But not everything that I focused on, worked out as well. For example, I wanted to make the National Honor Society so badly. Every time they tapped for new member I prayed so hard that it would be my turn. In some ways, I feel like I was scarred by that. I met all the requirements but I just didn’t make the cut. Similarly, I would have given anything to go to Girls State and I don’t think I was even on anyone’s radar. It always surprised me too since many in my class openly disagreed with the government, disputed saluting the flag by wearing the flag wrapped around their leg and acted like they were doing the school a favor to attend. I was not the BRIGHTEST AND BEST, graduating 32 out of 132, but I was a determined hard working student who would have given anything to be recognized by my peers and teachers.
For many, High School was it. For me, it was not. I attended the local college and was adopted by the marching band. It was there, that I met some of my very best lifelong friends. A couple years ago, we were blessed to attend the wedding of one of my roommates. All 6 of us were together for the first time since my husband and I were married in 1987. It was one of the highlights and happiest times of my life. It wasn’t about accomplishment, it was about friends that made a profound impact in my life. They taught me how to find joy WHILE accomplishing a dream.
I was reminded recently by a couple friends that I need to keep working on that. I have a natural tendency to get so focused on my goals, that I forget to enjoy myself. It is hard to find balance. Perhaps that is what we are all working toward: BALANCE. I’ve always told the children that “too much of anything is too much”. I need to take my own advice.
Over all my brag worthy accomplishments, I am the happiest when I am with my family. As I write today, my husband and I are babysitting our grandchildren 3500 miles away from home. We are experiencing what I am often jealous about: hanging out with some of the people that matter the most. It is what many people take for granted, but we don’t. We are so blessed to see our youngest nearly every day, our middle child every vacation and holiday, and to see our oldest and his family a couple times a year. We are only all together about once a year, which isn’t nearly enough. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, touches the JOY that fills my heart when all our babies are together, laughing, playing and enjoying one another. If we had two more humans with us today, it would make this day a “can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence world series kind of thing…” Maybe next time. I miss you girls.