Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Journey Home

Morning View at Home. August 31, 2013.

Some of my favorite stories are the ones about heroes and heroines who embark upon a life-transforming journey filled with mystery, romance, challenge and redemption such as The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars and Big Trouble in Little China.

In those stories, the hero ends their journey by returning home with the profound realization that there’s no place like home.  With that in mind, I was curious about how I would feel this week when I traveled more than 2,000 miles back home to the region where I grew up.  Would I, too, feel a desire to move back home?

It had been 11 years since I’d spent much time back home, but it didn’t take long before I felt at home with all that was familiar: the hearty food, the straightforward culture, the flat Midwest accents and the community values.  The Midwest values are simple: work hard, be good, follow the rules, make self-sacrifices for others and you will be rewarded.  Salt of the earth people live in the Midwest and I enjoyed reconnecting with my heritage.

But, what I hadn’t expected is reconnecting with how I felt while I lived in the Midwest: Alive, but not really living. Getting by, but not really flourishing.  Fitting in, but not really doing anything remarkable.  At times, I felt as if I couldn’t breathe.

At that time, I had known I wanted to change my life to something different, I just didn’t know to what.  It took me years to finally take a step forward because I thought it was selfish to pursue a few vague dreams and desires of something greater, some place else. The funny irony is that in pursuing my dreams and desires, I have transitioned into a career where I spend my days helping others.

Since I left home, the years have been filled with struggle, challenge, mystery, success, victory and romance.  Throughout those years, I had forgotten how far I had come and I had lost sight of why it was necessary for me to leave.  Why couldn’t I make my new life happen while I lived at home?  It didn’t all become evident until my journey back from the Midwest.

When I arrived at the airport gate for those headed to Seattle, I saw people who appeared to be musicians, artists, environmentalists, ocean explorers, software designers and developers, entrepreneurs, mountain climbers, writers, poets, photographers and yoga instructors.  I realized I had chosen to live among the creative, independent spirits, but it wasn’t until the next morning, when I woke up in Seattle that I understood why.

Upon rising, I walked down to the lake and as if for the first time, I felt the fresh sea air hit my skin, my nose took in the undeniably delicious fragrance of the most recent blossoms, and I watched a person serenely practice Tai Chi while a great grey heron, the symbol of independence, gently flew overhead.  It was a feast to my senses and I wanted to eat the moment.  

Then I realized.

Living here nourishes my creative spirit and gives me the sustenance I need to contribute to the world in a greater way.  There’s nothing selfish about that.  Living here is my personal oxygen mask!

It feels good to be home.

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I got your back.

My cousin and me at painting class.
She says mine is better than hers, but I think hers is better than mine.

Last fall, my cousin and her husband moved to my part of the country. My cousin and I haven't lived in the same city since we were kids and since neither of us have siblings, it means a lot to both of us to live near each other.

There are a lot of things I love about my cousin... she's fun and funny and so entertaining, but one thing I hadn't remembered about her is her selflessness.  Whenever I'm with my cousin, I'm reminded that no matter what, she's got my back.
     I left a book in the car?
       "I got it!" she says.

     I forgot to pick up something for us at the store?
       "I got it!" again.

     I just said something embarrassing?
      "You're good!" with a wink.

It feels so comforting to have someone who is looking out for my best interests-- someone I can trust who isn't going to set me up to be hurt or disappointed or later blamed for something that goes wrong.  I know that even if my feelings get hurt, it's just a misunderstanding because in her heart, she's got my back.

That's the thing about getting comfortable with people.  We don't always know whether we can trust someone, especially when we start to feel vulnerable. All of our fears come up, we get confused about what they really meant and it feels safer to shut down. It's always a risk to open ourselves up and trust that no matter the outcome, we will be okay.

But, if you and I are friends, there's one thing you can count on. I'm sure we will have a lot of fun, and I know I will make some mistakes, but just remember, in my heart.... I got your back!

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards