It is fascinating to me to come up against situations that completely surprise me and throw me off balance, coming head to head with what I thought was my dream…only to find that it was a brick wall with no dream in sight. Maybe actually facing those situations is not the captivating part, but rather becoming aware of my growth in dealing with them. I am such a Pollyanna, trusting and believing in people sometimes until long past when I should. I’m not sorry for that, though, for even though my heart takes a bruising, I would always rather be known as someone with an open heart than someone who lives in fear of being hurt. I’ve come to a place in my life that I will no longer let myself be guided by fear.
I was talking with Dan at lunch today about this very thing. It felt so good to say to him that I saw a shift in myself, that instead of being devastated by hurtful events, I now let myself grieve and then move on, feeling stronger than ever before. I am finally at a place where I don’t have to let someone else write the story of how I should feel or react. I can keep sense of self, my integrity, intact. There is a well of strength inside every single one of us, and sometimes we have to face our demons to help us bring it to the surface. Over and over throughout my life, I have often faced challenge with fear and doubt, navigating it all, but sometimes at great cost. But, with each time that I met trials and tribulations head on, something inside of me grew. I refused to let myself become hardened by life, for which I am grateful. I saw this example in my mother- she faced so much sadness and heartache in her own life, but she kept her sunny disposition and moved forward, always landing on her feet, looking for the good. As my clarinet mentor Kal Opperman would say when something not-so-good happened…”Next, on to the next.” Pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
And that’s just it. Life happens. People will change, they will hurt you- sometimes intentionally, and sometimes not. Not everyone is a good person that we will come across…or maybe they just don’t see things in the same light. Dreams may not turn out the way you thought they would, and hearts get broken. I think of the first time I began to see myself as having a real choice in how I allowed events to impact me was at the end of my first marriage. I chose not to be the victim, but to embrace the strength that I felt rising up in me. There was a good deal of anger at first- I am human, after all, but then I saw the possibilities, the hope for a different future. I saw opportunity. I felt this same strength flow again at the end of my mother’s life. I had no choice this time- I had to be strong for her. In embracing that role, though, I became stronger. I didn’t feel it at the time so much, but it was there, and it got me through the greatest heartache of my life so far. What we think, we become- I believe that – and I will always do my best to think of myself as strong and capable, able to face life head on.
There have been other times in my life that have felt like racing full tilt through the fog and right over a cliff. Out of the blue, something I cherished was gone, and I felt the pain of loss. However, when I allowed myself to look through the lens of strength that wasn’t clouded by fear, I could see that the obstacles were there to put me on a different course, one that was perhaps better for me. And that dream? It’s still there. There are many paths to dreams, and I’m willing to travel every single one to get where I need to go. I will never give up…I’m stubborn, just like my mother.