I’ve seen a lot of pictures on social media of the “decade challenge”. And it got me thinking. As 2019 draws to a close, we are getting ready to turn the corner and enter into a new year. But not just a new year. A new decade. And that caused me to reflect on the previous decade. So, I decided to make my own decade challenge and take it up a notch. Not only to post a photo of me a decade ago, but a photo of significance. You know, one of those moments that’s etched in your mind, like initials carved into a tree.
You see, the photo to the left is a picture of me and my firstborn, who turned 18 earlier that year and graduated high school. That day was the day that he packed all of his belongings into his first vehicle, a white Ford F150 pickup truck (manual transmission, cause hey, if you learn how to drive a manual, you can drive anything), and drove away as I balled uncontrollably. I wept so hard that day that my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I cried each and every day uncontrollably for a week. My two younger children looked at me with concern and confusion. My daughter was old enough to understand that her big brother was moving away, but not the significance of the event. And my younger son who was only 4 at the time didn’t understand why his mama was so sad. You see, that moment was filled with so much emotion. All the emotion of the previous decade and everything that we had been through. That moment was filled with a whole range of emotions; regret, sorrow, fear, joy, gratitude, and hope.
And as I flash back to that moment and then fast forward a whole decade to today, I can see just how much life we have all lived in those years. Holy shit, A LOT can happen in a whole decade. And here’s the thing, a decade flashes by in the blink of an eye!
You see, that day my son began his journey into adulthood as he started off on an adventure that took him all the way across the country to New Mexico. When I gave him the Dr. Seuss book Oh The Places You'll Go when he was that little five-year-old boy, I didn't imagine that he'd go so far! What happened after that was a whirlwind of changes. After living in South Florida for my entire life (we moved from Toledo, OH when I was two), I decided that it was time to uproot our family and move out of state. I did not know where I wanted to go at the time, only that I had to go. Unfortunately, the economy had tanked and we were forced into a short sale, like many people across the nation. So, while I researched options we began to pack the house that we had lived in for a decade. If you have ever lived in a home for that long you will know what I mean when I say boy can you accumulate a crap ton of stuff in ten short years!
After a couple of trips to central Florida and then up to Atlanta we decided that the move to Georgia was the right move for our family. So, my two youngest children and I moved in with my dad, who lived in Palm Beach County at the time, and Larry moved up to Atlanta to live with a good friend from his high school days. Larry looked for work and a home for us, while I took care of our two kids and helped to care for my dad, who had been diagnosed with Thymoma, a type of cancer that affects your thymus gland. In May of 2010, Larry came to FL to pack up the rest of our belongings and take me and the kids up to Atlanta. Shortly thereafter, we found a lovely home in Smyrna and a community that we have called home ever since.
My dad came to live with us for three years until he passed away at home. We had many wonderful memories with Pop, as my kids affectionately called him. During that time we also fought to recover from the great recession. Both Larry and I found and changed jobs, trying to recover financially, while providing as many opportunities as we possibly could for our two youngest kids. During this time my oldest son also got married, had a baby, joined the Army, was deployed to Iraq, had another baby, and then deployed to Afghanistan. My daughter entered second grade when we moved to Atlanta, and she is now a junior in high school and making her own plans for the future after high school (!) My youngest was just entering kindergarten, and he will move on to high school in 2020! I launched one business and then co-founded ReConnected To Life with Rachel. Larry went back to grad school and will get his masters degree in 2020. And of course, there is so much more. This is life.
So, what will this next year look like for you? How will you spend those 525,600 minutes? While it’s true that there are many things that will happen that are out of our control, there is certainly much that we can vision and plan. And cherish. My daughter is a dancer and goes to a performing arts school, so we see a lot of musicals and listen to a lot of Broadway productions. The first time I heard Seasons of Love from the Broadway musical Rent I fell in love. As I listened to it again today, I lost my shit. This song sums up our moments in living perfectly. How do you measure a life? I hope you will measure it in kindness, and compassion, both for others and for yourself, but most of all in love.
This past year, no, this past decade, has been a decade of self-love and self-care. I've redefined what self-love is and what self-care looks like for me. Becoming self-centered has been a twisty, turny journey. It's taken me a lot of time, reflection and work on myself to get to this point in my life. And, as I transition into this next phase of my life I have no doubt that the journey will continue.
So, back to my decade challenge and the photo to the right. This picture was taken a decade after the photo to the left, of our family on fall break. We spent the break in northern California visiting my brothers and their families. The photo was taken on a boat in San Francisco Bay. This trip was a decade in the making. The last time I had been back to northern California was before my youngest was born. I vowed we would get back for a visit. It took planning, visioning, hard work, saving, and sacrificing. But we did it! We took that trip!
This next year will begin to shape the next decade. So no matter the season we are in, we must continue to plan, imagine, grow, live, celebrate. And most of all, to love.
With Love & Gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel