I found myself today. I knew I'd been missing for a while and I'd looked everywhere for me, but my search had been mostly fruitless...until today.
When did I go missing?
It's hard to pinpoint exactly, as the events and the years surrounding my disappearance are a little hazy. I vaguely remember preschool field trips to apple farms mixed with hard deadline projects and conference calls from the back of a hay wagon. I recall rushed dinners of mac and cheese and the smell of a locker room at the ice hockey rink. I remember collapsing into bed with the day's makeup still on my face, only to rise again a few hours later to wash it off and do it all over again. While the exact timing isn't clear, I'm pretty sure it happened sometime between motherhood and career and, ultimately, divorce. (Yeah, I said the word.)
Where did I go?
When one is lost in the woods, every path has two possibilities: it can either lead you back to the trail, or lead you farther into the forest. And, honestly, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. The trees on the right paths look very similar to the trees on the wrong ones, and it's only when you've traveled down them for a mile or two that you notice that the fresh springs morph into swamps and the tall maples give way to briar patches. At that point, the only choice is to turn around and go back where you came from, try to find the trail head and choose another path. Walk, repeat, walk, repeat. It's tiring. It's arduous. It's a long hike. But every now and then, you pause to take in the scenery and catch a glimpse of a far off waterfall or the tops of the mountains. And that keeps you moving forward, navigating trails and jumping over fallen trees and searching for the landmarks that call you back home.
Where did I look?
Initially, I looked close to home...I couldn't have gone far, right? I searched in all the normal places like the Friday night football games among the crowd of familiar faces and the downtown hangouts where old classmates and old flames gather to talk about the good old days. I wasn't there. So I retraced my steps back through the murky waters and tried another path. Then I widened my search and asked new people if they'd seen me. They didn't really know who to look for, no reference point, so it was hard for them to help. They offered suggestions and guided me down paths they thought would lead to me, but the searches always came up empty and I returned back to the trailhead on my own, determined to try again another day.
Since utilizing a guide service and relying on the navigational skills of others didn't seem to be working, I decided to try another tactic. I took the most difficult trails I could find, the most physically challenging with the most obstacles, in the hopes that I would find myself stuck somewhere deep in the forest, stranded on a dangerous ledge or pinned under a fallen boulder. I certainly found traces of me out there, evidence that I'd been there. I would see myself far ahead in the distance, climbing under barbed wire, running through knee deep mud, and jumping over fire. It certainly didn't look like I needed rescuing, but I couldn't catch myself to ask. It was heartening to know that I was at least on the right track, and if I kept searching, I'd find me soon.
Then I got a hot tip that I was spotted out West. So I jumped on a plane and headed to the mountains, the location of my last reported sighting. I really had to gear up for this leg of my search. I bought boots, I grabbed a map, and I packed some snacks. And after two days of climbing, over rocky terrain and through plummeting temperatures, I finally saw myself...sitting alone on a rock, staring off into crystal clear waters surrounded by tall mountain peaks. I almost didn't want to approach me. After all this time, I didn't really know what to say. But I walked up, sat down, and had a conversation with myself - one that was probably a few years in the making. It involved a few laughs, a few tears, and a few hard truths but it ended with a promise - that we would reconnect back home. I would not waste the mountains.
Where Did I Find Myself?
The mountain talk provided a sense of calm and confidence that followed me back home. It's hard to forget the sight of the sun rising over the Rockies. And the feel of the cool mountain air on your skin while sitting under an ocean of stars, punctuated by the sound of an elk bugling in the distance, is something that just stays with your soul.
But where I really found myself...where my soul and my mind and my body all collided together once again...was in my kitchen this morning. Maybe coffee deserves a little credit for the clarity that brought me back to me, but I think it was the quiet realization that where I am is exactly where I need to be. Warm, safe, and surrounded by three little people that love me unconditionally and count on me to blaze the trail and point them in the right direction.
As my (current) favorite Pinterest quote reads:
Ego says, "Once everything falls into place, I'll feel peace."
Spirit says, "Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place."
And that was it. I went searching for myself and found my peace. I found it in the beautiful green waters of Emerald Lake and the familiar country road that takes me home. I found it in the strength of my muscles to lift me over nine foot walls and the comfort of true friends that pick me back up and love me regardless of my weaknesses. I found it in the first cup of hot coffee in the quiet of the morning and the seemingly endless cups of water that my sweet babies request at bedtime. I found it in the wise eyes of my first born, in the adorable dimple of my middle mini, and in the little hands of my baby girl who still needs to hold mine to fall asleep every night.
Maybe that's the secret. Maybe we discover that after searching high and low, changing our hair and our scenery, jumping over fires and jumping on airplanes, that all we need to do to find ourselves is to recognize the little moments of reconnection whenever and wherever they happen and hold on to that peace that allows everything else to fall into place. And maybe we realize that although we may get lost again, this time we will know the way to get back home. Maybe it's not some expansive trip with a grand epiphany at the end. Maybe, if we allow ourselves a little bit of grace and a little bit of space, we will find ourselves a little bit more every day.
To hear a discussion about "Finding Yourself", listen to this week's episode of Hustlin In Heels at https://audioboom.com/posts/7057297-reinvention-who-are-you-and-who-do-you-want-to-be
Subscribe to Hustlin' In Heels Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HIHPod/
Catch up with the latest episodes on iTunes, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!