Thursday, January 12, 2012

Its Family Business

I am sitting in the airport in Austin, TX, and as sad as I am to have just completed another round of tearful goodbyes, I have never in my life felt more surrounded by family. Not just by the people I consider my ‘Texas Family’ but my all of my adopted/unbiological family I’ve gained over the past several years. I meant it when I said I can really see only where my family begins because when I look around, in any direction, I can see no end to the people in my life who have become family, and I have a good feeling its going to be like that as long as I live. Some family we are given; the rest we choose and sometimes, when we’re extraordinarily lucky, they choose us. I never knew it was possible to love this many people and I think in the back of my mind, even more so, I never knew, or believed rather, that it was possible for this many people to love me back. I am indisputably the luckiest girl in the world. 

Life is so good and to finally be in a place where I can appreciate it fully is so unbelievably freeing. This is the first time in years that I haven’t been working multiple jobs, playing cat and mouse with hospitals and doctors, or doing things with my time to keep everyone else happy but me. So I took full advantage of that. As much traveling as I’ve done over this break, in between all of the destinations I’ve managed to have enough travel time to really reflect and put things in perspective. I think having that time is among the things I am most grateful for from this past month. Lets re-cap, shall we?

Chicago was incredible I got to tour Northwestern, I loved seeing the city; I learned SO much at the Midwest Clinic and met so many talented and inspiring people there I learned a lot about the path that I’m headed down, and about the direction I want to go and to top it off, I got to go there with some of my closest music family. 

Some of my Music Family...
 I finally got to go home to spend some much needed time with my family: both biological, and otherwise I needed that more than I realized. They keep my head on straight. All of them. And in more ways than one, good and bad, blood or not, as complicated or uncomplicated as it may seem, they keep me balanced. I love them for that...all of them.
and otherwise.
Then there was New Orleans Ah, New Orleans. You were so good to me (see previous blog post)  I lent you my eyes, and you changed what I could see, but you affirmed that my soul I must keep totally free. Thank you for teaching me how to rebuild from ruin, and ultimately, how to embrace restoration. I am so grateful that I got to share that experience with my VT Family I love you guys.

VT Family
 …36 hours after New Orleans, I went to Texas with two of my closest friends, and we were greeted immediately by more unbiological family that I’ve missed greatly. It was so, so wonderful to see them. Funny the way it is, when people cross your path briefly in the scheme of life, but you know immediately that they are meant to be a permanent facet of your life. That’s the beauty of extended family; there is no end. The coolest part about the Texas trip is that there were multiple people that are native to other said ‘families’ of mine that are now interwoven into the same sphere. It’s a small world after all, now isn’t it? 

These are the moments I'll travel halfway across the country for:
Love this kiddo so much..
Bath Co. Band Family Reunion

There is no better friend than a sister...
 The University of Texas is incredible I love Austin. I could totally see myself there, and I fully intend to go back. I’m not a fan of force-feeding the straight and narrow prescribed path, so I’m not going to. Instead I’m going deeply appreciate this experience, know that if I end up here in a few years after doing some teaching, I will be happy, but above any and all things, knowing and trusting that I will end up where I belong. I have thus far So what specifically is bigger in Texas? The brick walls that hit you in the face when you realize just how lucky you are that’s what.

 I’m now on the plane; reluctantly well on my way back to the East Coast and still sporadically fighting back some tears Not of sadness and heartbreak, but of overwhelming appreciation for the people in my life who make it so easy for me to see just how lucky I am. I find it oddly appropriate that I am parallel with the clouds as I finish these thoughts; I’m in a freefall. I’m in a place in my life where I can see beyond the clouds while appreciating being on the ground, all the while knowing the direction I’m headed could change with the wind I can appreciate the present and look forward to the future without being held back by the past. 

The journeys between the destinations are sustaining me and are opening so many doors that I am no longer afraid of not knowing exactly where I’m headed. I am well on my way to where I am meant to be, and that is enough for me. I have family here, I have family there, I am quickly realizing that I have family everywhere I go, and I’m starting to see that these people, intertwined or not, will be a part of my life forever. It’s family business. I like to think I have good taste in people; they all prove it. I am so very grateful for every single one of you who I am humbled to love as family, who love me as such back.

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them... give them a reason to believe in themselves." -Lady Bird Johnson


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ruined, Rebuilt, Restored.

 I’ve done a lot of traveling this Christmas break… hell, I’ve done a lot of traveling in general… But I think New Orleans takes the cake… for sure the most incredible place I’ve been in the United States. Going to New Orleans at this point of my life was like reading an autobiography… about myself. I thought about a lot of things approaching this city, while I was in it, and since leaving. Having the time to process it and to think about the experience in and of itself, it is almost disturbing how many parallels I’ve discovered. 

I have touched a lot on the part of my life that destroyed me… but I don’t care to relive any of it. I no longer see the point. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind, I could never leave the past behind. But it was comparable to a shot in the dark… aimed right at my throat. I was in ruins, and I stayed that way for a long time, not because I wanted to, but because I wanted, even less, to fight the demons on my back. That was my Katrina. I waded through stagnant water of things not worth saving, and as the water receded, I took several steps back to re-evaluate what I should let go of and what was worth hanging onto, but more importantly how and where to start rebuilding. 

The rebuilding period was the hardest and the longest part of that transformation. There’s something about rebuilding that makes you realize you will never again have what you had before, and that’s sometimes a difficult pill to swallow. When you take a step back from what knocks you on your ass, you learn how to defend yourself. I was quite the exoskeleton of defenses for a few years, as I can tell New Orleans was while justifying their determination to rebuild… I don’t regret being that way, because I think sometimes you really do have to protect yourself above any and all things. I was still rebuilding, but from the inside out… There’s a lot of forgiveness that has to take place when you rebuild something that once was your fortress, even if only for yourself. Like the people of New Orleans, I had to forgive the storm: both literally and figuratively.

I’m not sure you’re ever finished with the re-building phase of anything, but the beauty of the restoration part of this whole thing is the realization that, even though you will never be able to rebuild what you had before, you have the opportunity to build beyond it and make it better. That is beautiful to me… I saw the beauty in the breakdown of New Orleans and of myself in the form of restoration, front and center, more than anything else… and I think perhaps, maybe, that’s why I am wholeheartedly in love with that city. It put everything I knew about myself and many other situations in my life and the lives of those I’m surrounded by into storybook format. Pictures, illustrations, and sound effects… no stone unturned. What a beautiful, beautiful place! I mean that in every definition and capacity possible.

Don’t get me wrong, Bourbon St was the greatest, the music was incredible, and the food was to die for, but it was what was underneath the face of New Orleans that was inconceivably beautiful. It was shocking to me how, so many, many years later, the destruction from Katrina was still very prevalent to the face of New Orleans, but how, at the same time, it made it that much more beautiful. To me, that was a parallel as to how to wear scars as assets, beauty marks, storybooks; not deformities, ailments, or disabilities. It all goes back to the sentiment that “what breaks you down is not the load you carry, its all in how you carry it.” 

So to New Orleans, thank you for being so great to me and my family... (see above) I salute you and thank you for an experience of a lifetime… You taught me a lot about how to restore gracefully. You and I will be close friends, and I look forward to a lifelong relationship. I’d say for the first destination on my eternal journey to an awakened soul, I hit the jackpot. I find it inconceivably rewarding to be able to stand on the other side of this rubble and see where I am now and what I’ve rebuilt, and what I’m working on restoring. When push comes to shove, you find out what you’re truly made of… I know I did.