First I was a daughter. A sometimes mousy, sometimes mouthy daughter. I was respectful, but hated to be stepped on. I wrote letters to the editor when I was annoyed. I let people know how I felt.
Then I was a teenager. I was full of opinions and was quite sure they were all right. I was willing to debate for hours, or sometimes stay really really quiet – stewing in my personal assurance that I was right and they weren’t.
I spent 4 years away at college. Even though I didn’t want to – lol. I will be forever grateful to my stepdad for his insistence that I drive, AND go away to college. I am not sure I would have done either. At college I learned to stand on my own two feet. I met all sorts of people from all walks of life.
By the time I hit my 20s life had educated me some. I still held strong convictions, but I was able to accept that it was ok for others to have their own. I gained the belief that as long as people were respectful – we could disagree.
In my 20s I met my husband. A match that many thought was destined to fail. And unlikely pair we compliment each other in every way. He was my missing piece.
In my 20s I became a teacher. A lifelong goal realized. I worked harder than I ever had in my life to be the best I could be. I recognized the magic of teaching. I became addicted to the “spark” in their eye when they “get it.” I came to see that my presence and my attitude were as important as my lessons. I taught/teach my students, my children – to see the best in others, and to tolerate and embrace differences respectfully.
In my 20s Mom had cancer. And I learned what it was like to be scared. And I learned what really really matters in life. And she fought, and she won. I always appreciated my family, but I learned to appreciate them even more.
In my 20s I got married. I got my Master’s Degree. We bought a house. We tore it apart. We fixed it up again. We got buried in debt. We worked hard to get out.
Then – just about when I was ready to turn 30 – we had Meghan.
Mom said you do more changing in your 20s than in your teens. She was right. But as my 30s come to a close – I think they beat my 20s hands down.
In my 30s I learned to love my heart, outside of my body. I learned that I would never be as important as that little human we created out of love. I learned about family all over again.
In my 30s I learned to live without sleep. I learned to endure tears and screeching and pain as my heart ached for my baby girl. I learned that colic can last way longer than 3 months, and I learned to bounce and rock and sing and move for hours and hours on end.
In my 30s I learned how to balance two full time jobs, as a mother and a teacher.
In my 30s I learned what it was like to be truly terrified, as your baby went into the hospital, and into surgery over and over again.
In my 30s I became really close with God. I learned that my relationship with Him transcends walls and buildings and people. I learned gratitude, and I learned not to be shy about my faith.
In my 30s I learned that convictions can change. And the things I was sure I was right about 5 or 10 or 15 years ago…well, maybe I wasn’t so right after all.
In my 30s I learned that close friends share bonds that go past time and distance. I learned that even though I miss them, they are there when the going gets tough. I learned that EMail, facebook, and the internet, when used properly – are some of the biggest blessings in life.
In my 30s I learned that you have the power to make changes in your life when situations, circumstances or people have you angry, sad, hurt, mad, or generally annoyed. I learned doing something is way more rewarding that complaining.
In my 30s I learned if you believe in something enough, if you believe in someone enough, well even if you stand alone, you have to stand up for them. And I learned that if you do – they will be your friend forever and ever.
In my 30s I learned what it was like to hear the words “You have a Rare Disease.” I learned words like “Cowden’s Syndrome.” I learned about “tumor suppressor genes,” and “genetic mutations.” I learned about risks and tests that could take worry to a whole new level- if I let it.
In my 30s I learned what it was like to hear the words “You HAD cancer.”
In my 30s I learned which body parts are “extra.”
In my 30s I learned – because they made me- what it was like to tell your 9 year old, “The doctors are pretty sure you will have cancer.”
From mousy to mouthy.
From school teacher to Mom.
From “victim” to advocate.
All these things make me who I am today.
So much has changed, and yet at my core, my heart – I am the same.
I feel. Deeply and truly. I care. Often too much. I laugh, and I love with my whole heart. I know pain, and I know joy, and I have been intimate with both. I know fear and bravery. I know that I am not always right – but when I am… watch out. Because little will stand in my way.
I know life is not fair.
I know God is Good.
This weekend I went to 2 wakes. One for a woman who had lived a full life, and another for a young girl who sparsely got the chance. There are too many wakes. There are too many things that don’t make any sense. Too many people gone way too soon.
I can wail and cry and wither away in my sadness. I can let fear win – or I can stand strong.
Cowden’s Syndrome tries to win. It can strike fear in my core with a headache, or the sighting of a lump, or the feel of a bump. But I will not let it paralyze us. I will not let it win.
So we have our team of doctors. We have our visits scheduled. We check it all. Sometimes its tiresome. Sometimes its discouraging. But I would rather be out in front of the boulder – than under it.
Through it all I know Meghan is watching. My student – learning from how I react, how I fight, how I handle adversity. My teacher – teaching me bravery, courage, candor, tenacity, and stamina.
I do the best I can to show her that its important to stand up for what you believe in.
I think she gets it. I know I do.
The 30s have been a ride, and I still have a few more months to go.
In my 30s I learned what it was like to total a car. I learned the frustration and injustice that often goes along with accidents that they would like to tell me I am powerless to fix. I also learned that even though there are in fact some things I can not fix – there are others I can and will speak up about.
If you happen to catch this before 10 PM – try channel 11 news “Help Me Howard.” Working with the neighborhood to change a few things at my car accident site.
Advocacy. Empowering. Invigorating. Much more fun than lying in wait.
We have to keep our energy up, standing up for what we belive in while we are “Beating Cowden’s!”