Friday, March 22, 2013

Only one year

 365 days...52 weeks...12 months...one year.  A lot can happen in one year.  As I sit in my sweet little mountain cottage I think back over the last year and wonder where the time has gone.  In some ways it seems like moments and in other ways it seems like a lifetime has past.

Let me explain. One year ago I left my home, family, friends, and my job.  I packed up my son, pets, and household and moved across the country - 900 miles to be exact.  One year ago I left all of my friends and family to start a new job and a new life.  Some thought I was brave while others thought I was crazy. Still others may not have understood my decision.  I left a job I was passionate about; a job that consumed me; a job that had become my identity.  I left my family 
(including my adult daughter and friends who were like family).  I was confident I was making the right move, but terrified I would want to return a year later, with my tail between my legs, on my hands and  knees begging for my old job back.  

On March 25 I embarked on a journey that has proven to be the right one for me.  With the help of friends I moved my belongings into a house located in a historic neighborhood in a quaint town a fraction of the size of the town I moved from; a house I had only seen on the internet.  God was working though and this house I had never seen almost immediately felt like home.  The house was last inhabited by a man who was a brother by profession and sometimes I wonder if he ever left, but that is a story for another day.  

Then, on Easter Sunday, I loaded Bailey, Koda Bear, Fatty McFatterson, and Isabelle into my car.  As we said tearful good-byes I could not help but think the day we moved was symbolic.  Easter.  A day for fresh starts-new beginnings. Coincidence? I choose to think it was God at work.  

Within a very short time Bailey and I met our neighbors (another first) and Bay and the neighbor boys soon became inseparable.  Before much time had past I became accustomed to having a houseful of boys every weekend.   As Bailey and I began exploring the area one or two of the boys almost always came along.   Sleepovers have become a routine  - there have been very few weekends in the last twelve months where at least one of the boys hasn't been here at least one night of the weekend.  As I type this I can hear them upstairs in his "man cave" and smile knowing that thirteen months ago I would have been working and sleepovers were uncommon because of my crazy schedule.  

Summer came and went. We spent a lot of time hiking, exploring the area, doing yard work and attending church on Sunday.  We even got a week at the beach since  I had to be there for work.  In the midst of summer (and a heatwave in MO) we made a mad dash back to say good-bye to my sweet grandmother who went home to be with God - a woman who proved blood is not a requirement to be family.  When we left MO my stepmother gave me gifts I will cherish - mementos grandma had kept over the years including cards, photographs, pictures I had made as a child, and letters I had written to her when I could not visit.  In addition to those lovely items I was given another treasure - the flag my father was given when his father died; a treasure I prominently display on my mantel.  Other than memories, this flag and my old Pentax are all I have of my dad...unless you count the visits he makes in my dreams.

As fall began Bailey found soccer.  As you can see he enjoyed the game (almost as much as I enjoyed photographing him). With soccer came more friends for him and slowly, but surely, for me as well.   We settled into a routine of soccer practice and soccer games while working and going to school.  Routine. Normal. Predictable. Music to my ears.  Melanie came to visit and after a week, and with a heavy heart, we said goodbye.
In the last twelve months I have begun to slow down and smell the roses...or rather, the pine trees and ocean spray.  I have spent as much time as possible making memories with my son and giving him the childhood he deserves.  We spend as much time outside as we can and have enjoyed the simple pleasures of long hikes, the taste of water from a waterfall, sand between our toes, and time with friends.  We have sung praises in church (and on hiking trails) and this winter we read To Kill a Mockingbird aloud.  

In the last twelve months we have explored the beautiful mountains in which we live and I have spent four weeks at the coast...for work.   I have had the privilege and honor of  training a multitude of law enforcement on a topic I am very passionate about and look forward to seeing them put the training into action.  I miss The Job, but I love my Life.

In the last twelve months I have learned so much.  I have learned you cannot make someone stay in your life-because sometimes it is too hard for them.  No matter how much we do not want things to change, they will and sometimes that is okay.  I have learned that some friends will never say good-bye (thank God), no matter what the distance.   I have learned how precious those friends are.  I have learned that miles do not mean anything when you can pick up the phone, text, or send an email-especially with family (and some of my friends are like family). 

In the last twelve months I have made some wonderful friends - both at work and away from work.   I am blessed to have girlfriends to have fun with, exercise with, and drink wine with.  And in the last few months I have expanded my very small circle to include a group of joyful women who do not care how silly I look doing Zumba.  And for those that have wondered, I actually ventured back into the dating world.  I learned three years is long enough. 

Finally, in the last twelve months, whether I am driving across town or across the state to the coast or just here enjoying my home I daily thank God for the privilege of getting to live here - in a place where I can see His fingerprints every time I look out the window and see the breathtaking beauty that surrounds me.  And on the days where I wonder if I made the right decision walking away from a career that meant so much, I look at my son and think about how much he has grown and blossomed and think...Yes!  My career may have altered slightly, but hopefully this change will allow me to make a difference without sacrificing his childhood.  As I sit here I count my blessings and cannot help but think, twelve months down...and a lifetime to go.