Twenty-five years ago, I made a significant change that altered my life pretty much forever. Dave and I had been married for six years and he has been totally supportive of the change. I have been sober and serene for 25 years, as of today.
But wowee, I could not have done it alone. I have had the perfect spiritual advisor (I call them sponsors) for each season of these years....as they gave me exactly what I needed just when I needed it. My first sponsor, Margaret, walked me through the steps, and she never (not once) would have co-signed my bull-crap. She moved years later to another state, and I had to find someone else to guide me. Ugghhhh....have I mentioned I do not love change most of the time? Ellie, however, was like Mother Earth to me.....it seemed all the woodland creatures gathered around her, and I was blessed to be one of them. She loved fiercely, and she had an amazing story. She passed away a couple of years ago, but before she passed away, Dave and I had moved to Tucson, where I found a pretty lovely lady who sponsored me for awhile. Lisa has a heart of gold, and is always trying to better herself and grabs onto healthy habits that I tried to emulate many times. Moving back to my homeland of Texas and building the home of our dreams was so much fun, but it was also pretty stressful stepping into new situations and not actually getting to do what I truly believed I was going to do once we moved here. I needed a sponsor and spiritual advisor who would listen to my honest story of where I was in my sometimes lack of serenity and confidence. Denise has been my rock, and I am so very blessed that she happens to go to the same church Dave and I go to. She reminds me that when I worry about "stuff", I am simply "borrowing trouble", and wow! she is exactly what I need right now, as I begin my 26th year of sobriety. She had an amazing career, and she helps me understand how, despite how VERY important my career still is to me, that is what I do....it is not solely who I am. I am so much more than what I do.....but I still have trouble separating ME from MY CAREER.
I am such a people pleaser because I truly care what my university students think about me, and I will bust my ass to help any one of them who shows the desire to grow as well. My theory is "Once my student (at the master's level, doctoral level, or any of my students or workshop participants I've ever taught in my life)....always my student". I love keeping in touch with my students, and all I can think is that I would never be able to do what I do (teaching Educational Leadership students, doctoral students, or teachers/principals all over the world) without the support of all the mentors I have had in my life who have helped me continue to grow. I continue to want to learn right along with any of my "students"----I'll hop on a webinar with students who want to do a book study; I'll talk with teachers' unions about their concerns about observations and evaluations they worry will be done in a "gotcha" format; I'll answer questions my students have at 5:00 in the morning because I know what it is like to be immobilized if you don't know what to do next on an assignment that will be due in two days; and I will discuss and debate with people who have misconceptions about how amazing public school is and how teachers are doing their darndest with so much flack from people who often don't understand what they are doing and what they are really doing to help students of today become adults of tomorrow who Dave and I would be proud to have taking care of us in whatever assisted living facility (or maybe even at our home---please?) we wind up, someday.
Am I proud? Yes, AND I am humbled. For me, it's not an either/or deal. In the past 25 years, I've experienced some of the most amazing parts of my life (other than meeting and marrying Dave, of course, which happened 6 or 7 years before that), but quite honestly, we've weathered some of the most challenging aspects of our lives in these past 25 years as well: I've lost my mom; I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy (and oophorectomy, and....and....and....just because it was estrogen-fed); we've lost Dave's mom and dad; we've lost some of the best Labrador Retrievers to cancer and other issues; and I've recently lost one of the dearest soul-sisters I've ever had in my entire life...BUT, despite all of that (and so much more), I have a fellowship of fellow travelers who are walking this path with me (some have not made it; others have opted to go out and do some more research for those of us who stick around). I am grateful....forever grateful.
Next Sunday, we will become members of the Episcopal church we have been attending in Boerne, Texas (about 30 minutes away from our dream home we built in the hill country of Texas about 18 months ago), and I cannot seem to quit getting teary-eyed when I think of how grateful I am for finding a church home in which we worship, sing, listen to amazing sermons, and then talk about the service for the next week. That, to Dave and me, is pretty much the epitome of what it means to worship. Have I mentioned I am grateful? Our two Labs, L.C. and Kirby, are living their best life as they get to run off-leash most always twice a day----chasing deer, armadillos, turkey, and each other. When I am not traveling for work, I get to sit in the backyard and listen to the birds (and silence; there is always silence), go to noon meetings, read books for pleasure, and see some of the best friends I've ever had (getting together with Denise and Mike and going on double-dates (even if they are to Cabo San Lucas) sure doesn't suck) and having my Texas family (including my almost-5 -year-old niece) close enough that my niece can stay the night with us and curl up and watch Scooby-Doo and eat popcorn with M&Ms is pretty special. Yep, life is pretty damn good. I could complain about the traffic on 1604 but life is way too good!!
Quite honestly, life is only this beautiful because of this 25 year milestone. I'm by no means perfect, but life is pretty perfect.
I pray it is for you, too!