I made a huge decision last week, a few days before Christmas. I am going to Haiti on a medical missions trip in April 2016! Admittedly, this is the primary reason I am starting a blog, so that my friends and family can journey along with me as I prepare for this trip. It was a decision fraught with a mixture of excitement, fear, and self-doubt.
I turned 40 this summer, which turned out to be not as bad as expected. I actually found 38 and 39 more difficult than 40. There is all this anticipation and buildup that comes with turning the Big 4-0. Your late 30’s starts to turn into one long episode of Doomsday Preppers. But then you get to The Big Day and you realize that rather than being the anticlimax, it’s a fresh start, the first clean sheet in a new notebook.
There is a certain amount of soul searching that happens with a milestone birthday. About 9 months ago, our office was interviewing a new physician. I got to spend a little time with him, and one of the things he asked me was, “what do you like to do outside of work?” Turns out when he wasn’t being a surgeon, he was making his own wine, and pursuing a long-ish list of other such interests. He asked me that question, and I had a panicky moment where I didn’t know what to say. I strive to strike a balance, but much of the time I am just treading water, trying to keep afloat with the weight of responsibilities from parenting and a full-time job. Plus, at the time, I think I was knee-deep in the second season of House of Cards, and I couldn’t very well tell this classy surgeon who made his own wine that I spent my days daydreaming about the moment I could get the kids into bed, get in my pajamas, and binge on Netflix. I think I bumbled something about spending time with my family, which is not a lie. I do love to spend time with my family. But somehow all the stuff for me, the stuff that got me excited and looking forward to my future, had just passively and insidiously seeped out of my life. Most of this was driven by sheer exhaustion, mind you, mixed with the demands of having young kids. It is the kind of thing I never really thought I would let happen to me, but it did, because the reality is, there is only so many hours in a day, and only so much of my energy to go around.
So I have been working since that time to reclaim not just some hobbies, but some passion. My friend Mary introduced me to trail running, and I am hooked. It is like therapy to me. More on that another time. Also, I started a bucket list.
Doing my bucket list turned out to be ridiculously challenging. I am very pragmatic, so I would think of something to put down on the list, and then immediately think of about 5 reasons why I shouldn’t write that item down and talk myself out of it. I just felt like if I wrote it down, I was somehow making this committment to see it through to completion, and that seemed really overwhelming to me. My inner dreamer would say, “I want to see the Greek Isles!”, and my inner critic would say, “where will you get the money to do that, hmmm? You probably wouldn’t have enough vacation time. Also, you have to save up for college or your children will be vagabonds. Go home, you’re drunk.” This went on for some time, and the page in my journal stayed blank, staring back at me. I finally had to ignore my inner Debbie Downer and just write a bunch of stuff down, even if they seemed unattainable.
So, a medical missions trip was on the bucket list, and that is partially how I came to a decision point. I didn’t let myself think about it all too much because, again, my inner Debbie D. brought up a lot of excellent and sensible reasons why I should put it off for a few years. So I just sent off an email and decided to seize the moment. There is more to the story, that I will speak to at a later time. All stories have many facets to them, so next time I will zoom in through a different lens to give you a different perspective.
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