And so, in this crazy place we call life, everything can — and does — turn on a dime.

Including my pity party. It’s a bit of a shame, really, to end it so abruptly. I put a lot of time and effort and tears into it.

But I’ve been blessed this weekend to spend some time with my family, to slow down, to relax, to look at their funny little kid faces (Chris’s, too) and remember what this journey is all about. I’ve slept and read and breathed and stretched and laughed and loved and reached.

And all of a sudden, everything looks different. The lens through which we choose to see things changes the view dramatically, doesn’t it? Sometimes I forget that.

I was reminded again of the reason I write this weekend, of the reason why I choose to share and over-share and wallow and cry and piece sentences together bit by bit — some better than others, some bad enough to bury forever.

My latest revelation came in the form of author, Cheryl Strayed. I’m reading “Tiny Beautiful Things,” and it has cracked me clean open, broken me into a thousand vulnerable pieces. It’s so damn beautiful and authentic and true, it — quite literally — continues to take my breath away, page after page after page. That experience — that one right there — is why I read, why I write.

I’ve found myself thinking, “If only I could write ONE SENTENCE like that, my life would be complete.” But then I hear Sugar’s voice saying, “Hold on, Sweet Pea, you’re missing the point. Stop with your arrogance and your angst and your woe-is-me battle cry, hike up your too-tight jeans, and get on with the business of doing what you’re here to do.” And she’s so right, so beautifully, tenderly, ass-kickingly right.

We all hurt, we all break, we all cry and thrash and scream and doubt. It’s the getting back up that matters. It’s the outward-facing love-giving that moves us forward. We all stop from time-to-time to lick our own wounds, but it’s in helping heal others and doing what we were put on this earth to do that Matters. It is, in fact, All That Matters. Loving unconditionally. Giving. Working. Appreciating. That doesn’t mean taking shit from those who choose to dole it out, that doesn’t mean staying in relationships that don’t nurture and feed us, it means recognizing those things for what they are — hurt and disappointment and anger slopping up on us when someone kicks their shit our way, when someone else’s hurt and brokenness is so impossible to bear alone that it must be kicked and shared and slopped all over the rest of us.

Again, I am reminded that I don’t want to be a shit-kicker. Of course, I do it. Have always done it. Will always do it. I’m human, just like you. And her. And him. But the more I walk this path of my existence, the more conscious I want to get about not doing it. About loving instead of kicking. About getting through and learning from the shit rather than wallowing in it.

So I’m not independently wealthy.

So I don’t have a trust fund.

So my dad walked away.

So friends have disappointed.

Family, too.

I’ve done the same to many others, many times over.

But here and now, in this place I’m standing, I am surrounded by love. I am embraced by a man who chose me 25 years ago, who still chooses me, despite all the crazy that comes along with that choice. And I choose him, even when I’m screaming at him and crying about him and re-directing all my own anxieties at him. He’s the one. He’s always been the one. He always will be the one.

And these kids of mine. I could not love them any more. Yes, they exasperate me. Yes, they push my buttons. Yes, I call them dicks at times. Yes, their incessant bickering threatens to drive me right over the edge. And yes, I still choose to see every wonderful, beautiful, flawed thing about the human beings they are, about the individuals they are becoming.

They are not me. They might be from me, but they are uniquely their own. I cannot change them, cannot define them, cannot chart their courses for them. I can just love them, love them as if my life — and theirs — depended on it. Because it does. And when I mean love, I don’t mean indulge and coddle and enable. I mean Love. With a capital “L.” Because I can. Because I do. Because it is all that matters.

(One is belching loudly in the kitchen as I write this. I don’t Love that. Not at all.)

I’m going to just throw my hands up in the air in a moment of surrender and admit that this past year has Rocked. My. World. More than I ever imagined it could. New state, new jobs, new schools, new salaries, new house, new weather, new landscape, new anxieties.

And also? New opportunities, new successes, new horizons, new experiences, new growth, new friends.

Red wine. Red ants. The good and the bad. The salty/sweet mixture of our days.

Thanks to all of you for journeying with me. For handing me tissues when the snot ran down my face, for shaking your heads when my teeter-totter life continued its crazy dance, for holding me closely from hundreds of miles away, and from just across the room, for riding the roller-coaster of my tumultuous love and need even when you wanted to barf. You know who you are, you who light up my days with your phone calls and your letters and your coffee invitations and your emails and your blog comments and your kindness. You with your glasses of wine and your guest beds and your patios and your pools at the ready. You who have chosen to make the journey South just to experience us and all our dog hair in our new element. You who arrived here years before us, who have made the South slowly… slowly (after all, no one is in a hurry in Mississippi) start to feel a teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy bit like some kind of home. You. Big-hearted, much-adored, so-very-appreciated you.

Big changes. Big opportunities. Big life. Big love.

Even with all the dramatic sobbing and the tearing of hair and the gnashing of teeth, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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