A few weeks ago John and I had the pleasure of traveling to Phoenix, Arizona for work. While we were only there for about 5 days, upon my return home I realized that it had become Fall. The leaves had not only changed, but had also started to fall off of their branches. The smell of Barbeques and sun tan lotion was now replaced by that “Fall” smell (everyone in the Midwest, or East knows what I’m referring to. If you haven’t ever smelled “Fall”, it should be bottled and sold!). Now it’s very possible that this change had been happening for weeks before I left, but sometimes when we remove ourselves from a situation, everything becomes more evident!
I was born and raised in NW Indiana, and although in my early 20’s I saw that as a curse, I now understand the blessing of growing up here. The ability to enjoy the four seasons is a real pleasure. When I was younger it meant being able to swim in a pool or lake, and a few weeks later to be jumping into piles of leaves. It wasn’t a few weeks difference that we (my brother and I) were sledding down hills and having snowball fights (mostly my dear brother throwing snow in my face!). When I was young, the season change meant I better find a new way to keep myself amused! As I have gotten older, it means so much more.
I lost my Father on November 8, 2004. I was 24 years old. For about two months my life came to a screeching halt. When you lose someone that is such an integral part of your life, nothing is ever the same. This was the first year that I didn’t enjoy Fall. I didn’t enjoy the leaves changing colors. I couldn’t see the beauty in the first snowfall. It was, by far, the worst couple of months of my life. Although by the age of 24 most people feel that you should “have it together”, I did not. Losing my Dad made me realize that I better get it together, and start getting some things done! One of the lessons I learned very quickly was how valuable life is and how fast it can be taken away from you. Floating along taking things for granted and waiting for things to happen was no longer going to be acceptable. It was from then on that the seasons took on a different meaning for me, and so did life.
John and I have the pleasure to travel all over the world and meet all sorts of incredible people. I absolutely love to meet new people, and talk to them about what they enjoy. I am often saddened to hear about what makes my new acquaintances happy. I hear a lot about material purchases, or new business ventures. I don’t hear nearly enough about how they have found “success” in having a happy family, or a providing a loving home. So many people are so consumed with keeping up with their neighbors, or just surviving, that they don’t take the time to sit back and realize everything that is important is already right in front of them. I do understand that everyone finds pleasure different ways, but in my opinion there is nothing more important than family and love .
So from 24 on, my life changed. Now, I love deeper, appreciate more, and work harder. I realize that any day could be my last. I work harder for what I want, and don’t take for granted what I have. I forgive more, and forget less. I love my family so intensely that I truly don’t know how I could breathe without them. I never go to bed mad. I never, ever, ever say the word hate (my Dad raised us that it was far too intense of a word to use for anything, saying “hate” in my house was as good as cussing). I am thankful for every person that is in my life. I donate to every animal shelter I can. I’m always willing to help someone, no matter what that entails. I embrace the simple pleasures of life.
So as the season changes again, I want you to look at this as a new beginning, both personally and professionally. Let this be a new start for you to spend more time with your kids, or proceed with your new business venture. This can be a time for you to “start fresh”. Take a different road, or even a different turn. Forgive yourself for mistakes made, and find solutions instead of problems going forward. Appreciate all that you have, and understand how valuable it all is. What are you thankful for?