Yesterday, today and tomorrow are professional development days at work and all of our staff (we have several in remote locations throughout the county) are currently in DC. One day is committed to staff meetings, one day is community service and a fun activity and the other a series of staff-driven sessions on various topics with a review of the year and goals for the next year.

To begin the sessions, because we are in student affairs, we launched the day with an ice breaker. We were given six questions to answer and then we each shared one. One of the questions, and the one I chose to share, was what is one day that you would like to relieve? Without any thought, I wrote down December 18, 2013.

That is, of course, the day I came home.

Everything about the day was meaningful and purposeful. Listening to this song as I got ready in a Minneapolis hotel room. Seeing the Missouri River cut through the rolling hills from a small airplane. And then walking into that community airport and embracing the people I love, the moment that I had dreamt about for so long. I had completed an incredible journey and, awaiting me at the finish, were my greatest cheerleaders.

Of course this moment will always be a big one but I started to wonder if there were others that I would chose specifically to relieve. Many came to my mind.

– The few days between college graduation and moving to Idaho for my first job. My friends and I were limbo but it was the perfect place for us to be. We drank. We laughed. We forgot about all that had worried us and that would worry us.

– My swear-in days.

– A Clue-themed birthday party when I was 8 or 9.

– The 24-hour-day that we worked on putting together the first issue of the 2006-2007 Collegian.

– A run through the forest, the cemetery beach and our final night in Madagascar.

I deliberately try not to live in the past and to entertain ideas about reliving moments. I never want to fall into the mindset that my best days are behind me because I don’t believe that they are, or will ever be. Yet, thinking about these moments reminds me how blessed I am to have such good times and even the difficult memories always seem to lead to something better.

Near my 28th birthday, in Lesotho, I climbed to the top of a big hill in my village and began to write not a list of ambitions but a list of completions. I often struggled with being one of the oldest in my group, although so young I still am, and I did doubt the course my life had taken. But once I started to see all that I had been so fortunate to do and to experience, I was grateful. Even in the darkest of times, my life has never been anything but good.

Sometimes it’s good for us to go back, especially when we are at a turning point. It’s good for us to see where we’ve come and what we’ve endured to understand that we will keep going and we will keep overtaking those hurdles.

We are not guaranteed good lives. We are not guaranteed love, money, professional fulfillment, a certain amount of years to live or even happiness. But we can be thankful for what we have and what we had. If we are thankful because we were once happy and peaceful, then I believe we can be happy and peaceful again.


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