Friday, December 31, 2010

The gift

The cold chilling days of December are slipping by. Christmas with it frenetic whizzing speed has come and gone. The good cheer mixed with bittersweet moments, and a longing for times gone by. You wonder at times how you got to this place. This new place where children are grown, parents have aged and you are suddenly the "grownup". You look around for signs and people from your childhood and find missing pieces of your heart left in memories that smolder softly. It's winter.

Still as you survey the landscape you can see and feel the possibilities ahead like a tiny bird hiding in the bush, waiting for the climate to improve so they can take wing. We often are waiting.

When I was little I thought if I could only be a teenager, then I would have that kind of excitement and freedom I imagined my babysitter had. I saw her as having the kind of life that was full of rides in convertibles, and dances to the Beach Boys. She didn't have to do homework, or clean her room. She was free and happy. Then I when I became a teenager, I had a ton of fun, but I never felt free. After all, my parents still had the ultimate say. If I broke the rules I was flooded with guilt. I began to wish for becoming an adult, when it all would make sense. When I could chart my own course in life. I entered college with enthusiasm because it meant I was on my own... deciding when and where I would be choosing direction.

But when I graduated from college, I didn't quite know which way I was headed. You feel as if you should know, but you haven't a clue. The door to your future stands shut until you decide to open it. You stand in a corner without any direction until you turn around. You want to find a reason for your uncertainty in life, or someone on whom the blame can lie, but you know it is really just you, and that time in your life. Even with my job as a sales person for Procter and Gamble, I felt lost. Then life opened a door I didn't ever want to have opened. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. The direction I was to head was as clear as day, I needed to go home, with or without a job and so I did. And there, I began to search once again.

At 23 I was jobless, in search of a career. I worked at a friend's dress shop as I spent time helping my Mom go to Doctors appointments. I interviewed with dozens of companies. Until I secured a job at Merck selling drugs. One of only 2 women at the time in sales for Merck, I found myself up against chauvinistic men, my boss in particular, whose goal I felt was to try and get me in bed. The pay and the stress didn't add up to my dream situation. At 24, my mother died. At 25 I left my job and headed back to school to get my masters in education. I was living in a foreign city depressed not only from no income, but from no direction. I didn't believe I belonged in Southern California at all. I wondered why at 25 I didn't have a special person in my life. And then, I wrote a letter to a friend from college. Glenn Youngling. At 26 I fell in love. I quit my masters program and planned a wedding. At 27, I moved home. Home to Glenn.

No one could have told me back in those dark "corner" days where I would be find my home. I had to find it myself. It happened by moving forward. It happened by taking action.

If I could give anyone a gift this December and for the new year it would be to realize that the feeling of being stuck is a sign you need to turn around and take a step. The truth is you will never know if that one step will be in the absolute right direction, but it will be through the movement, that you can start to see which direction you should be heading.

Each stage in your life will have its own challenges. It is what you do with those challenges that will define you.

When I was diagnosed with Cancer 16 years ago, I began another period of fear and doubt. Standing in the corner with Cancer standing at my back, I was trapped. I was a victim and unable to really free myself. Then in 2009, I turned around and stared Cancer in the face. I reached out and pushed it aside and started walking. With each step I began to free myself from my self imposed prison. And I will continue to walk in 2011.

Your life is waiting.... turn around and take a step.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone. If you read this and there are still hours left in 2010, consider making a donation to Susan G Komen for the 2011 3 day walk. You can take the deduction now, you will be helping me help them to end Cancer in our lifetimes. It's your basic win-win.