Fear. It's what I'm feeling right now. Overwhelming angst. Panic. Anxiety.
I've been reading a lot lately about writing, because I want to improve. It's what I love to do, and I'd like to get better at it. I just read this article on Twitter about this CRAZY thing you can do to be an inspired writer. Just take what you're feeling at the moment, and write about it. Simple, right? I decided to give it a go. Well... here is the result.
I'm scared to death of what I'm about to do!
This summer I managed to wrangle all five of my kids, one of their spouses, and my grandson into going HOME for a visit with me. My brother and most of his family joined us also. It was a FEAT! I thought at the time, 'if I can pull this off, I will be able to accomplish ANYTHING I set out to do, ever again, from here on out!' Well... I did it. We didn't just go visit family, we took a daytrip (and into the night) to New York City while we were there! Many of us experienced the Big Apple for the very first time in our lives, even though my brother and I were born and raised in Upstate NY. I spent my first 37 years of life there. But, NYC! It was exciting! A dozen Upstate NY transplants, now living in Nebraska and Kansas, walking down Wallstreet, taking the ferry and the subway, eating at a pizza shop, snapping pics at the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park. We did it all! Fourteen people (my best friend and her daughter were our tour guides)... fourteen hours... It was a blast! An experience I will NEVER forget. And, I got to do this with my family! When I am an old, old woman, I will tell my great grandchildren all about my first trip to the big city (at 50 years old). Lol!!
We attended family reunions, BIG ones! We had a few bonfires - my personal favorite - drank a few beers, listened to our kids sing and play guitars in my mom's back yard. My parents live in the sticks, just up the hill from the dairy farm where I grew up. They have Amish neighbors. Watching a horse and buggy trot by daily was a pretty spectacular sight! Very nostalgic. Sometimes, we could hear them singing. I just wanted to run out to the dirt road and hop on their buggy and sing along with them. Do you think they would mind? :D
We also spread my younger brother's ashes in his favorite place, back in the woods behind my parents' home. We planted a tree for my mom in her front yard, in his honor. That was tough. We had our tough times, just like everybody. We were a BIG family. I have step siblings, half-siblings, full-blooded siblings, and that dynamic is always tricky; but, when push comes to shove... we are all family. When my younger brother was murdered almost two years ago, we all felt the pain. This summer, many of us came together to honor his memory. I was so proud of us. All of us. We took time out... to recognize the fact that one of us was missing; and he wasn't coming back... ever. Yep! It was tough. But, we all still have each other, even though we live miles apart. This trip changed me.
Which brings me to this BIG thing that is causing me so much anxiety. After living in Nebraska for the past 13 years, seven of them as a single mom (of those five kids), I have decided to move back home. Home. Think about it. Home is not a geographical location. It's a place, yes. But, it's a place where you feel comfortable. A place where you feel like you belong. Look back up there where I referred to myself as a transplant.
I live in Nebraska. I have been here for a long time. I really do like it here, most of the time; but, it's not home. I haven't known my current circle of friends since I was a little girl. I did not grow up with them. We didn't hang out in the same haunts as teens. We didn't go to the same school for 12 years together. We didn't get in trouble together. They weren't the ones that came to visit me in the hospital every time I had a baby. All of my kids were born in NY.
My friends here are very precious to me. They've helped me through some tough times; like divorce, finding a job (after being a stay-at-home mom for almost 20 years), helping my kids with broken down cars, attending funerals with me. They've lent me money when I had no idea how I was going to pay the bills. They've cried and prayed with me on many, many occasions. And, I DO have family close by. My brother is a quick four hour drive south, and my oldest daughter just a little more. We've traveled back and forth for holidays and family visits since 2005. Wonderful, wonderful visits - Easter, Christmas, birthdays, and weddings... the birth of my grandson, and graduations. I do not lack, believe me!
But... I want to go home. It's where I belong. It's where I came from. It's where 'MY' people are. My classmates, my friends, my family... a lot of them are still there, in that tiny, little town where I grew up. Cows, churches, bars, wildlife, snow.... LOTS of snow! Believe it, or not; it's where I want to be. Home.
Why the angst, anxiety? I love my kids, my family, the friends I've grown close to in the past 13 years. I really do! If you've read any of my other articles on this site, you'll understand that I am a nostalgic, family-oriented person; maybe more than anyone you've ever known. My kids, my friends, my home that I've worked so hard to create over the past several years - I am SO going to miss them! How can someone live in two places at once? If I could, I definitely would! I long to go home, but I hate leaving.
Aside from the obvious, painstaking stresses of moving... packing, leaving my job, finding a new one, finding a new place to live - there's the anguish of leaving my kids and their new families, my grandson (only a year old), leaving my job of four years. I found the perfect job for me here. The atmosphere I work in is awesome! It's very ME!
I just need to go home. For most of my adult life, I've lived far from home. My parents didn't get to see my kids grow up... not really. Even 1300 miles away, as we are now, they've seen more of my kids than they did when we lived an hour and a half away from them in NY - through Facebook. I know a lot of people think of Facebook as a negative thing, but it has been a Godsend for me... and my family. My mom doesn't miss anything! I make a post about Hannah's college recital... she's on the phone congratulating her on a job well done. My recent weight loss... she encourages me on every single phone call... and 'likes' every single post. If I don't post anything new or positive in a week's time, she's on the phone asking what's wrong. She's tuned in, connected.
This is how I know we'll be okay. My kids use all the social media... Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram. They've made sure I know how to use them too. We're good. I won't miss anything! We will have a connection that was never available before. I will get to SEE my grandson as often as I want. I can witness all the little things that happen in my kids' lives.
And... I'll be back. I've decided not to sell my house here. After I've been HOME long enough (I think I'll know when it's time), I can come back. My kids will scatter. I know they won't stay in this town... or state forever. But, when I come back, I will be centrally located, able to visit to my heart's content! I'll have a place to come back to. At that point, I may just feel like I'm coming HOME.
This photo is captioned: "Life is so messy and beautiful." Perfection is not necessary... and to me, not even desirable. New year resolutions should fit YOU and YOUR lifestyle.
My new year resolutions will be decidedly atypical for 2017. It's time to break out of that mold that I've encased myself in. My resolve will be based on MY expectations for my life this year, and not what I think others have come to expect of me. It's time to stand behind all those positive-thinking memes I like on facebook. (Sidenote: I have no shame in liking good, positive encouragement on social media.)
This year, I'll go to the movies, by myself. I love a good drama! When I see a trailer for a good movie, I will make a plan to go see it, while it is still in the theater. Why should I have to wait for it to come out on BluRay, or for someone's schedule to clear up enough to go see it with me? I am good company! And I am an adult! I'm going to the movies this year!
My "me time" is going to be filled with home improvement projects this year. There are things that MUST get done. I call them, "put out the fires" projects. The toilet might fall through the floor soon, and we only have one bathroom. I think this one qualifies as, "hurry up and get it done!"
Then, there are the "wouldn't it be nice if" projects. I will make time for them also. Wouldn't it be nice if my whole bathroom looked like my Pinterest board? Yep, that's on deck this year. Side note for lurking gift givers: power tools... just sayin'.
I get great satisfaction from completing a hard job, especially one that involves physical labor. When complete, I've reached goals of physical, emotional, and intellectual fulfillment. Think about it. A home improvement project is a good workout. It makes you feel great about what you can accomplish all by yourself. And avoiding a big repair/construction bill makes your budget happy! No labor charges for this gal!
When faced with decisions such as saving money for a new couch vs. taking my kids out to eat, which do you think I'll choose? If you know me at all, even a little, the answer to this question is easy. Let's eat! ...and laugh, and share, and learn more about each other. When my life is over, and the kids are all grown up, no one will remember what my couch looked like. (Well, maybe my kids will; they HATE my couch!) But, I think they'll remember the wonderful, fun times we had together. Memory building will be the name of my game this year!
Over the past several years, since my divorce, and the death of my brother, my priorities have experienced a pretty big shift. I've come to realize that a connection with my extended family is a huge part of my well-being. Facebook is great. Phone calls are awesome. But, face-to-face has reached top-level importance for me. You guessed it! A 2,600+ mile, round-trip is in the planning stages as you read this. I have already turned in my leave request at work. FAMILY has become the center of my universe. I will not apologize for that, ever.
It appears that 2017 is shaping up to be a great year, even before it has started. My wish for you, is that you will be able to identify those things that are of utmost importance in your life, and reach for them like you never have before. A year's worth of reaching will not be wasted. You'll see.
Happy New Year, friends!