(October 23, 2015 – En Route to San Diego)
As we fly over the Grand Canyon, I know just to the north is a place that holds all of my heart. It is a love story that led us to Utah – a boy and girl fell in love and said “I do.” Two days after our wedding, we headed to Utah. It was our love that took us there, but it is where we fell deeply in love. It’s where our loved gained roots. It has been our anchor. As I fly out west today, I want to jump out of this plane. I want my bare feet to be covered in red dirt. I want the vastness of the sky. I want the air at the top of the mountain.
My plane left Virginia Beach at 6:30am this morning, and I landed in Chicago as the sun was rising. It is a cloudy day in Chicago. As we made our approach into the airport my eyes searched the horizon for the skyline. I rediscovered a piece of my heart hidden in those city streets one week and five days ago. I wanted to see the skyline that pulled me to that finish line. As soon as I accepted that my only vision of Chicago would be the O’Hare airport, the sun escaped the clouds. A spotlight shined down on the city. Where are my running shoes? Please let me run to that skyline one more time.
The month of October has felt like a scavenger hunt. Perhaps that is why I have been compelled to search the world outside of this flight craving Utah and the streets of Chicago. October has been a quest to find the brightest part of my soul. It started by returning to the town I was born in just north of Chicago. I attended a PQMD Meetinh (Partnership for Quality Medical Donations). Not only did I attend, but I participated. I contributed. On the second day of the meeting, I was asked to present. I came prepared. I had notes and a Powerpoint. I was ready to share my script. When I walked into the meeting, I realized I actually had no clue what I had signed up for. I wasn’t just presenting. I was sitting on a panel to discuss increasing access to healthcare around the world. What I had prepared would be the backbone of a conversation, but it wouldn’t be my script. As I listened to other panelists, I sat in awe of their accomplishments. Soon the microphone was pointed in my direction. In that moment something magical happened. The voice that came out of my mouth was confident. I had something to say. I floated somewhere above myself, and I was gifted one of those rare moments when I actually saw myself. I wasn’t distorted by fear or insecurity. I was the best, most authentic version of myself. I thrived, I was engaged, and I loved it.
I carried this with me onto the streets of Chicago. For 26.2 miles, I was the best, most authentic version of myself. I thrived, I was engaged, and I loved it.
Today I am sitting on a plane heading to San Diego. The scavenger hunt continues. I lived in San Diego for a few years shortly after I was born. More important than my toddler development, I also revisited San Diego as part of the trip with my family when I was twenty-one. It was on that trip that I read about medical volunteers in Cuba. It was after that trip that I put my adult life into action by accepting a proposal that squashed my dreams of returning to Cuba and ultimately lead me down the path of divorce. But it was that trip and all of my actions after that trip that carved out my soul. The last time I visited San Diego, I didn’t have any idea of the gifts I had hiding inside of me.
Fourteen years later, I’m on a plane amazed and grateful for my scattered soul. I’m amazed and grateful that this month has become such a pivotal month in my life. This scavenger hunt is perfectly timed. I’m picking up the pieces of my heart, not because it is broken, but because it is incredibly whole. My heart is complete so there is room for every lost piece I left scattered around the world over the past 35 years.
Every moment of life won’t contain the love of Utah. Ever mile won’t be as magnificent as the miles in Chicago. But for the first time, I have the confidence to work through it all. I have the confidence to use my voice, to trust the process, and to work with whatever life brings me.
Over the past 35 years, I’ve spent a lot of time telling myself to “Let it Go.” I needed to. It was a lesson I had to not only learn, but a lesson I had to live. I needed to let go of guilt and burden. I needed to let go of things I couldn’t control. As I complete this scavenger hunt, I’ve started a new chapter. I’ve learned something new about myself. I’m ready to accept wherever this path takes me. Instead of focusing on letting things go, now I want to scream “Let it come”. I’ve opened up my arms and my heart. Welcome life! I’m ready to live it!