My mother and I sat on the patio of our favorite little bistro, in Little Rock, on a warm late spring evening having a cocktail. As usual, I was sharing some big story, and she was listening and smiling. I had just met someone who seemed to be the perfect soul mate for me. I was explaining to my mom how he was headed to Boston to graduate school. With all the emotion of Anne of Green Gables, I exclaimed how devastating this was! I had finally found my one and he was leaving. She looked at me and said, “You should go with him.” “What?” I asked. I protested that I had only known him a short time, and Boston was so very far away. And she said, “You are 27 years old. You dropped out of college. You work part time at a bank. Go. Live. You can always come home.” And so I did. And it was lovely*.* Until it wasn’t enough.
Only months after we broke up, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Emma. As soon as I found out, I instantly knew that being a mom would bring me complete fulfillment! Every day I was pregnant with her, I dreamed of what our life would be like and how everything would look. Indeed, Emma has been both the greatest love and leap of my life, but once again, there was a moment where I realized I wanted something more and different.
I was sitting in a graduate class when the teacher said, “Many of you are here because you want to change the world. And you believe that you will do that by working for a non-profit or government agency. I’d like to pose the idea that it’s okay to make money and change the world by deciding who to give it to.” I decided to go to law school. The day that fat white envelope came in the mail (on my 31st birthday), my heart leapt in ways I had almost forgotten. The first day of class was like a first date. As I rode the bus to campus I noticed how the birds were even singing just a little bit louder and my skin looked brighter and healthier. I congratulated myself for the huge leap of faith it took for me to give up my job and count on my family for help with Emma and attend one of the top 30 law schools in the country. But, as time went on, those longings for something new came up again, and I started rethinking my plan.
Thanks to the relatively new world of Facebook, I reconnected with my first love; my high school love; my 80’s-movie-smart-girl –loves-bad-boy love. Can you imagine what he told me the first time we talked on the phone? That he still loved me even after all these years! That he had kept his promise at age 16 to love me forever! And so the planning and dreaming and scheming began. The plans for the next big leap started to take shape. This time I absolutely knew in my heart of hearts that if someone had loved me for that long, they were the thing that would satisfy my needs. I packed up my Emma and we moved across the country to Kansas. Since this is post-Gmail, sometimes the emails I was writing to friends during this time show up again, and I am reminded of how TRULY deeply I believed that this move would be the best thing ever. But instead, a day came when I just knew there was more and better for me out there.
I visited my mom and Emma in St. Augustine, FL and it was AMAZING – a true paradise. I began make plans to move there. St. Augustine was my new true love. And for the first couple of years that I lived in St. Augustine, almost nothing mattered except the fact that we lived in Paradise. Emma continued to grow and be stunningly beautiful inside and out. My mom and I sat on many more patios drinking cocktails and laughing. Finally, this leap had been the one that had brought be to my heaven. Until that changed – and I felt something missing in my life again.
Having recently dealt with the loss of three miscarriages and a marriage that was crumbling, I began falling in love with the idea of being best-friends/world-changers with my sister. We spent hours on the phone planning, dreaming, and scheming. I told anyone who would listen how we were going to run an amazing business together and everything I had ever dreamed of was waiting for me in Connecticut. This was actually true for about three whole months. How could it be that once again mustering the courage for a huge leap of faith had left me feeling empty?
A short time later, I sat with an herbalist and healer one day and she told me that I was like a butterfly. She explained that the caterpillar doesn’t squirm when it is in chrysalis – it has no idea what is really coming next – but still knows that it will be amazing. She next talked about how it is amazing – it is the most amazing thing ever (a butterfly), but it still needs to eat and be nourished and find its home. And then she explained that the beautiful and amazing butterfly never asks any one flower to be its everything, but simply enjoys the beauty and deliciousness of the flower as long as it feels good and - then, moves on to the next beautiful and delicious thing. “You, my sister,” she said, “should realize that the courage to leap and believe the next thing will be beautiful and delicious is what matters. And it always is – even if only for a short time. And when it is no longer delicious, enjoy the fact that you are able to so easily start planning for the next delicious adventure.”
And so I began planning again. And just about one year from that conversation, we had moved back to Paradise and I sat on a patio with my mom drinking a cocktail and telling her about the next big adventure I wanted to have and how it was going to be the most perfect thing ever.