Life’s Greatest Gifts
Life has a way of sneaking up on you. One moment, you are young, alive, taking on the world, and the next minute you’re saying, “What have I done with my time?”
I have always thought, I was living my dreams no matter what stage of life I was in. When I was six –although I didn’t know it yet — I wanted to be a writer. I wrote stories of all sorts and poems seem to float off my tongue onto paper like nothing. I didn’t have to put much thought into it; the words were just there.
I remember starting my first book at around twelve, I was in seventh grade, I think. My grandmother gave me her old typewriter to use – you know kind that had the black and red ribbon on the back to imprint words? The keys would stick together if I started typing too fast, but it didn’t bother me, I was writing.
Around ten I learned about poachers killing whales for their blubber, or the sport of it. I asked my mother how I could help. It was at that moment I suddenly wanted to be a marine biologist. Writing would have to wait. At that time, I didn’t realize at how much grueling math it would take me to accomplish that goal. I made it to calculus, but in the end, writing won.
In fourth grade I discovered reading comprehension. It was like a whole new world. I found myself walking to the library once a week, (which I later found out was 1.8 miles one way), but I didn’t care. I was fascinated with reading. The movies going on inside my head enticed me to read more.
When I was seventeen I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. I went to school for it too. Half day in high school half day at vocational college. I wonder if that program is still there? I remember my mother encouraging me to get a career that required a lot of math. Nope, I don’t think so, been down that road before. “The day you learn to read a pattern is the day I’ll teach you to sew,” she said. At that moment my mind was made up, Fashion Design. I wanted to learn to sew and make clothes from my imagination. I accomplished one dream, many more to go.
Of course, somewhere in there I dreamed of becoming a mother. I wanted six kids. A whole brood of them. A large family to love. To give them something I felt I didn’t have much of growing up. It’s my most proud accomplished dream of all. I can’t see life without my babies. They are my world. Watching them grow into this person I made– rather half made, and obviously I want to take all the credit, but can’t – brings me complete joy. Seeing them discover new things and learn from life lessons, is rewarding. Watching this tiny human that grew inside my belly and turn into a walking miracle is mind blowing to me.
Almost 50 years later what do I have to show for it? Memories, lots of memories. Whether good or bad. The good ones of course are cherished, like the birth of all four of my kids, or the day I married my best friend. The bad, or perhaps just hard life experiences, and lessons learned, fade into a future story or poem, usually. Quite frankly, I would not be the person I am today without it. Mistakes make us wiser; stronger. Mistakes are the building blocks of our foundations core. Never stop learning, or listening. Occasionally my foundation needs repair, but one thing I know, it’s strong.
“It’s time to stop and smell the roses,” my grandmother would always say. I didn’t really understand what she meant, until now.
Through the years, God threw me subtle hints that I was not fulfilling the natural born gift. Throughout my childhood some people would send messages; intending for my good, encourage me down a different path and not the one I was meant for.
There are only a few in my life, who have imperceptibly hinted; “Get back to your writing,” or “Have you finish that book yet?” Or the way one special person in my life says, after I ask how to respond to a befuddling email someone sent to me, “I don’t know, you’re the writer.” Another memory: my grandmother who listened on the other end of the phone while I wrote her poem. I’ll never forget when she said, “Maybe you can read it at my eulogy.” Funny how when faced with death it can either bring you closer or push you further to the depths of your inner desires. The day my grandmother died, I stopped writing.
I aced my English classes in college despite having dyslexia and ADHD. When one loves something, things seem to just fall naturally into place and yet I didn’t pursue my writing. When my oldest daughter was about twelve years old and about four years after my beloved grandmother’s death, I took to the pen again. My daughter became my new inspiration to a story. The idea and plot were there. My heart was in the right place. I wanted to write a book that my daughter could relate to. She had a difficult time reading, and so few teen books out there at the time for her to read. I knew she already had her gifted born talent. It was pure, and raw. Still is. She could take something old, and make it new again. Totally amazing. Reading was important during this time, (anytime really, reading is always important) she needed to get past her (what I now know to be dyslexia) anxiety. Watching my children not pursue their dreams, no matter how much it pays or doesn’t pay the bills, literally breaks my heart. I see the discouragement in their eyes and pray that they never give up on their dreams. Life is a journey and there will bumps in the road.
The lesson: it’s not how long it takes to get there, but that you get there. Besides, I truly believe if it’s your God given gift or talent, then pursue it. It will make you happy and may even pay your bills.
My heart is telling me that God is steering me down a new path — rather, an old path that has always been there, but the weeds are now gone, and the way is clear. I know now, the difference between writing, and making it a reality… is a pen.