Category Archives: whats next

New Beginnings

Every New Begining

As a child of the ’90s, this will always be a line from “Closing Time” by Semisonic.

It is strange to think that everything tends to happen at once, but at times, it does.  Right now, I am facing a fresh start in my career, my personal life, and pretty much everything else.  It is exhilarating to think of all the possibilities ahead.  I know that I have talked about fresh starts ad nauseum here – in fact, one of my favorite writing instructors pointed out that it is a consistent theme in my writing – but there are a few things I have learned over the years.  That is what I want to focus on here:  what I have learned and the future.

First, it is time to let some things go.  They no longer fit into the vision I have for my life.  Now is the time to put them to rest and focus on what’s ahead.  For me, that means letting go of experiences that left me feeling less than.  I won’t detail them, but I have had my share in both in my career (business and education) and my personal life.

Enough.  I can’t hold on to any of this anymore.  I am forced to forgive people who may not even how deeply they have hurt me.  I doubt that I will ever get the opportunity to discuss the issues in person.  Even if I did, I could explain my perspective until I am out of breath and he or she may still not get it.  It doesn’t matter.  I lost sight of my worth and that is entirely on me.

Second, it is time to act.  Finally.  It is time to act.  Over the last few years, one thing or another stood in the way of acting in different parts of my life.  There isn’t anything holding me back anymore.  Nothing.  In fact, that’s been true since this past summer.  Unfortunately, that fact took its time to fully sink in.

We are our own worst enemies.  Stay tuned.

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Grace’s Table

I don’t remember exactly when I first heard about Grace’s Table, but it has made a lasting impression.  My sister, Erica Wolbrink, met Lisa Anderson and became involved with Grace’s Table not too long ago.  It is through Erica that I learned all about Grace’s Table’s mission to help provide young moms with space to grow personally – spiritually, professionally, and as mothers.  Ever since I first heard about Grace’s Table’s mission, it stuck with me and captured my imagination – even though I have never experienced Grace’s Table in person.  I could never quite figure out why, until recently.

As I began participating in Grace’s Table’s latest social media campaign, I thought about why I feel so drawn to Grace’s Table’s mission.  It finally hit me.  As a single woman approaching 40 preparing to adopt and become a single mom, I can only begin to imagine what young moms feel at age 15 or even 20.  Parenting is hard enough; it is infinitely harder when trying to figure out your own identity, often in the face of limited resources and support.

I am blessed.  I have a wonderful education, bright career prospects, a home, and reliable transportation.  I am surrounded by friends and family who support and love me unconditionally.  Even though I am not yet a mom, I know where I will send my children to day-care and later school.  I have a fully-developed support systems, resources, and options.  And I am still scared.

I can’t imagine facing parenthood in the middle of adolescence or even in young adulthood.  As a secondary teacher, I fully understand that adolescence and young adulthood is a time of discovering one’s identity.  That self-discovery requires space and support.  Unfortunately, that is precisely what many young mothers lack just when they need it most.  Grace’s Table is seeking to provide that space and support for young mothers in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I invite you join me in learning more about Grace’s Table, their mission, and what space for grace is all about.

Grace’s Table – Growth

#spaceforgrace

Happiness

Happiness 1

I am not quite sure what shifted in my life over the past few months, but I can feel it.  I am happier than I have been in years.  It makes no sense on the surface.  This summer, quite frankly, I was miserable beyond words, and now, I am far from it.

Nothing major changed.  I am still single (more on that later), I am only slightly closer to starting the family I so desperately want, and my dad still hasn’t fully retired from the canoe livery.  My teaching career is not yet off the ground, and I am not yet a published author.  It just doesn’t matter that much anymore.  I am working toward the items I listed above, with one notable exception:  a relationship.

In fact, finally letting go of the idea that I should be in a relationship may be responsible for my new-found happiness – and my renewed focus.  After finally fully addressing my feelings for one man in particular and letting him know exactly how I feel (it wasn’t going to work), I just didn’t care anymore.

It isn’t that I am completely giving up on the idea of ever being in a relationship.  No, it is more than that.  Maybe I am finally learning that there is nothing stopping me from what I want out of life.  I know what it is like to be in an awful relationship, how destructive it can be, and how it can slowly erode over time without one even realizing it until it is far too late.  I also know what it is like to continually wonder if you should let your true feelings be known.  In this case, this person’s friendship meant so much to me that I did not want to jeopardize it.  That is what I feared most:  that he would no longer be a part of my life.

For the first time in 15 years – actually, most of my adult life – I am not in a relationship nor do I necessarily want to be in one.  There is no one in my life I would like to date, and I am fine with it.  Finally.

So far, my little “yes” experiment has been a success.  You can read more about it here.  There is so much to do and so little time.

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Saying Yes

great things

Over the last few years, many plans I made did not come to pass.  For example, last year I didn’t attend the annual Mid-Michigan Writers’ retreat.  I made a point to do so this year.  Last year, when a good friend moved to nearby Gladwin, I suggested we meet up and spend some time in her new town.  A year later, we finally did just that.  I need to do … more.  More of what makes me happy, more of what matters.  A little over a week ago, I made last minute plans to spend the weekend with my mom, aunt,  and my sister and her family to attend a memorial service for one of my great uncles.  I ended up getting to see members of my family that I haven’t seen in years.  I made wonderful memories with my sister, aunt, mom, and nephews. What if I had missed that?  It made me realize that I need to make time for the people that matter in my life.

Every year, I seem to get into the Christmas spirit later and later.  If I am honest, I tend to get depressed right before Christmas.  It always seems to be a combination of things, including the fact that my birthday is the week before.  No matter how hard I try, I tend to fall into a funk.  It is overwhelming, it is emotional, and it tends to highlight just how vastly different my life is from everyone else’s in my family.  The thing is, somehow, I tend to snap out it once the festivities get going around December 23rd.  I am convinced the antidote is simply more:  plan more time with family, start new traditions, get an earlier start on decorations, maybe bake (I can’t believe I just wrote that).  Do it all.

None of this, of course, is an original idea.  Heck, there is an entire book called Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (yes, that Shonda Rhimes) that describes what can happen to your life by embracing this idea.  I haven’t read it yet, but I will soon.  I am already taking the idea to heart.  We will see where it goes!  There are many possibilities and many events on the horizon.  Stay tuned!

Saying No

To Love Again

Grandma and me – Michigan State University – 2001

Somewhere along the line, I lost my love of life.  When I think back to the young woman I was during my years at Michigan State, I can’t help but wonder what happened.  I was always planning a new adventure, whether another study abroad program, participating in Alternative Spring Break, or internship/co-op opportunities, not to mention various part-time positions (paid and unpaid) I held while on campus, among many other experiences.  No, I am not that young anymore, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go after what I want out of life.

 

Unfortunately, over the last decade or so, I began to doubt myself and question everything.  It no longer matters how or why, what matters now is that I get back to pursuing what I love.  Now, I must figure out precisely what that looks like.  There is so much work to do.

A couple of weeks ago, my aunt, my mom, and I went through several drawers of my grandmother’s memorabilia – family photographs, cards, letters, newspaper clippings, and more.  One thing stood out above everything else:  Grandma lived her life to the fullest, even in the face of tragedy.  How I wish I could talk to her now.  Today is the first anniversary of her death.  Tomorrow would mark her 93rd birthday.  There is so much I wish I could ask her.

When I think of all the legacies left behind, it is her love of life that stays with me the most.  She did exactly what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it.  My dad, her youngest son, did the same.  Both passed that on to me.  I am just as stubborn as well.  Now to figure out what’s next.  I am far from where I was five years ago, but I am not yet where I need to be.

May

relax

Call it a casualty of having an overly full life, but I have no idea what happened to May.  It began with a quick getaway with my Mom and the end of one of the most trying semesters of my college career, Mother’s Day brought new hope and renewed faith, and Memorial Day signaled the unofficial start of my summer life.  I’ve wanted to write a post about motherhood and Mother’s Day for close to a month, and frankly, I doubt I can do my feelings justice.

Something felt different about Mother’s Day this year.  Even though in recent years I’ve been fortunate to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom and Grandma(s), the very thought of Mother’s Day was enough to make me break out in hives.  When I worked in retail, I had to keep my composure as customer after customer wished me a “Happy Mother’s Day!”  They all meant well, but they also had no idea how those words stung.  The first thing I remember wanting out of life – to be a mom – eluded me and continues to elude me, at least for now.  Even though I knew that I wanted to adopt in the future, I saw no way to do so.  Fortunately, I changed the circumstances of my life.

That is why this Mother’s Day felt so different.  There is nothing standing in my way now.  Winter semester 2016, now in the books, marked the last traditional semester of my teacher certification program, my second college career.  After completing my last class at the end of this month, only student teaching and extensive testing stand between me and my first teaching position.  I will finally be in a position to adopt and create a family of my own.  The sense of purpose – and peace – I have in my life now shapes everything I do and my future.  I know that I’ve talked about this before, but I did not expect to feel this way so soon.  I haven’t even taken classes to become a foster parent yet.  Above all, I needed to trust that I will make it happen.  I love knowing that it is now all up to me.

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