Life Changing Reflections

Do you ever sit in your thoughts and think back to how your life used to be and then look at the present and see where you’re at today?  

I want to share a little story with you today.  If you know me personally or have been following the blog for an amount of time you know a couple things about me.  I LOVE hearing stories.  And I enjoy telling them too, because people can relate to stories that are shared.

Recently my brother and I went to Utah to visit some friends for a long weekend.  Prior to setting up the trip, we talked about IF we should go on a skiing trip or not.  Why you might ask?  Well, the last time I went skiing was 5 years ago and for him it was 4.  Each of us has reasons why we shouldn’t go, but the truth of the matter is, we both agreed it would be a good trip to see if we both still liked skiing.  Turns out, we both do, although we don’t “bounce” like we used to ;).

Before going into this trip I reflected back to the last time I was skiing.  It was when I was 22 years old, and severely sick with Pancreatic Cancer.  My gut hurt 24/7 and I wondered how I would make it down the slopes despite me sheer determination that I would.  Well, I did make it down the mountainous slopes but there were some close calls.  As I thought back to that ski trip to Colorado, and I then looked at the present, the here and now.  I reflected on how my health has turned around and truth be told, tears brimmed my eyelids as I thought about it.  This ski trip now was one of redemption for me.  One that even if I didn’t like skiing anymore, I could leave off with skiing on a note that was positive, encouraging, and healing!  You see, I needed to heal from the bigger wound of the last trip, that lingering distaste of sickness that may had tried to dampen the memory of a great trip despite not feeling well.

On our most recent trip as my brother and I rode the chairlift up the slopes of the Utah mountains, I was once again brought back to countless downhill skiing memories.  The first was hitting the slopes at the mere age of 4 years old!  From there my mind drifted to our once a week public school run Ski Club nights at our then local ski hill in Wright County Minnesota.  And from Ski Club it turned into countless nights of Alpine Ski Team practice starting in 7th grade, ending when I graduated from Lang’s Home School while living more remotely and traveling much farther to reach the ski hill for practice.  After this season of school years, our next many years of skiing in the mountains were yearly trips until I came to that last ski trip when my health wasn’t well.

In my own thoughts, and pretty much in my own world as we rode up the chairlift, I smiled while full of happiness!  I was setting myself free from the memories of what I left off skiing with not so long ago.  I was redeeming my love for skiing with a taste that explodes with excitement, adventure, and energy.  I was releasing the old… and letting the new fill inside of me.  And boy, did it feel GOOD!

The last day on the mountains I thanked my Papa God for the opportunity to not only take this trip, but to have redemption in being set free from the past.  To be whole, healthy, well and full of life and energy again is awesome!  But I thanked my Papa God most of all for the time of reflection right then to visit the past and work through it to become more healthy and whole from the inside out.

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At the airport as my brother and I boarded the plane, I walked down the aisle and came to my seat.  As I turned to take my seat in the middle of 3 chairs, a woman was sitting there in my spot.  I glanced at my brother, whom gave me a perplexed look, so I said to the woman, “I think I’m supposed to be in the seat you’re sitting in…”.  She looked up at me, checked her ticket and then said, “Oh!  I’m supposed to be in 24Eeee.”

“Oh.”  I stated emphatically, “I’m supposed to be in 22E.”  She got up, passed me, us, and then I looked towards my seat… and much to my delight I saw a dog sitting on the floor, where my feet would soon be landing.  In the window seat right next to me sat another woman.  I literally plopped down into my seat in pure delight and started talking to this woman whom was a complete stranger, about her dog.

Again, I have to do a little reflection because IF you know me from my past (especially more than about 7 years ago), you know I would NOT have talked to a stranger despite my curiosity of whom they were!  I’ve changed.  A LOT!  As I started talking to the woman, I immediately took notice that she was blind, so her dog was a seeing-eye dog for her.  Her golden lab, named Todd, traveled with her everywhere she went, and she WENT a lot from what I learned about her during our flight.

We made small talk and then I decided I better be quiet because I’d gone on long enough.  She seemed pleased about that so I scanned Delta’s movies for one to watch.  I thought about how the woman next to me can’t “watch” a movie.  About how she doesn’t get to see the beauty around us.  She doesn’t get to see the magnificent mountains, or race through the slopes on skis dodging trees, and people (sorry Mom).  In that moment I was once again put in a time of reflection of just how blessed I am, that we all are each in our own ways.

Each and everyday we take so many things for granted.  It saddens me that all too often  it isn’t until we lose something that we understand just how much we took that “lost something” for granted.

As I sat next to this woman and her dog, Todd (the dog) gently put his head on my foot and I gladly let him lay it there.  He was my new friend’s eyes, and for that I was eternally grateful.

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Throughout the flight the woman and I shared a few conversations, and then as we landed we talked even more.  I learned that she had started her day at 3 am, and her next flight would bring her home to Connecticut.  She being originally from MN, we talked about things that you have in common with fellow Minnesotans.  Then, I asked her when her next flight was.  “It’s supposed to take off in 45 minutes” she said.

My eyebrows shot up as I thought to myself, “how in the world is she going to make it there in time?  The dog doesn’t know which gate they need to be at.”  I offered, “You know, my brother and I are in no rush at all, you get off the plane before us.”

“No.  I don’t want to be a burden or get in your way.”  She stated matter of fact.

“Believe me, you’re not and you won’t be.  You’re going on before us.  You need to catch your next flight.”

It came time for us to take our turn in departing off the plane.  My brother and I moved so the woman could get up.  I watched in awestruck wonder as Todd guided her along the aisle and she walked with a confidence that left me speechless.  She got off the plane and I slowly walked giving her and Todd extra room.  Watching the team of two work together was nothing short of a beautiful dance you’ve heard me write about many times, surely.  Todd lead her safely to a flight attendant that would help them get to their next gate in a timely manner so she would make her flight.

As my brother and I walked away to go to the baggage claim, I reflected again on how I can so easily take so many little things for granted.  Leaving the airport that day, I left feeling like I’d just grown immensely again, through all the reflections running through my head in the last many days.

To go back into our past to work through memories, to realize how we can take things so easily for granted, and to smile at how we can come out the other side having learned from what we’ve went through.  That’s what it’s all about.  Right?  That’s growing!

I’m really glad I’ve been through everything I have in my life.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the frustrating, the highs, the lows.  They’ve all helped shape me into the person I am today because I’ve choose to face into all the things that have happened FOR me, not to me.

And now I get to rub shoulders with other people, I sharing stories and listening to others share theirs.  I’m so thankful I’m not the person that I used to be; the young girl that wouldn’t speak to strangers, let alone virtually anyone besides “her tribe of people”.  How much I must have missed in those golden years of childhood.  But wait, even though I had missed the opportunities for growth back then, they didn’t define me or my life, because I chose to change in my recent later years NOW.  And this is why I share these stories with you today.

No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve been though, there’s hope for growth, learning, and change.  You can be the person that you want to be, but it’s going to take some time, work, dedication, love, and self respect.  You are worthy of goodness.  You are worthy of love.  You are worthy of change happening in your life for the better.  You, my friend, are a treasure chest that is so beautifully and intricately made that no one can replace you or your story!  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?  It it my hope that you grow into the person you are meant to be, and that you share your story, your many stories, with whomever you please.  This makes me think of a woman I know who LOVES to listen to people’s stories!  She’d be first in line to hear yours!

Today, as you reflect on the past and the present, I hope you realize how truly amazing you are as a person… and how far you’ve come in your life.  May your time of reflection bring you closer to the sweet salt-of-the-earth kind of person that you are, and are becoming.  I enjoy being on this beautiful journey called LIFE with you.  I can’t wait to hear the stories you share as our time together here goes on!

Until next time, keep smiling, keep being true to yourself, and keep making this world more beautiful with your presence!

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