I heard myself say the words and I felt the sting of tears.
Sitting at the coffee shop with my best friend, the previous weekends memories flooded back. I had gone to Kansas City and spent the entire weekend walking around places that I had not been in almost six years. I was not prepared for the emotions that overwhelmed me with every step. Days gone by, spent with my kiddos on assorted adventures, discovering new places and making memories that were now bringing me to the brink of tears. Vivid pictures of them walking in front of me as they held hands and giggled…driving through tree lined streets, telling silly jokes and laughing till we cried…exploring open houses and fighting over whose room would be whose even though they were homes far too large and rich for anything we could possibly need or afford…moments long gone but now so precious to me.
I had gone with the intentions of taking in the Plaza Art Fair and just spending some time to myself to sort out some decisions that I needed to be making about the future. Instead, it was an unexpected trip down memory lane, and to be honest, it was exactly what I needed.
I arrived on a Saturday and headed straight to the art fair. The weather was perfect and the fair did not disappoint. As a photographer I think it’s important to pay attention to other people’s art from time-to-time and see what others are drawn to. It was wonderful to witness so many photographers selling pieces of their work and the crowds that spilled in out of their tiny spaces. It’s intimidated and exciting to see such beautiful pieces on display but as I walked up and down the aisles and spent time really taking it in I was surprised at the shift I noticed in my own attitude. A few years ago I had walked through this art fair and left feeling completely dejected and unworthy, believing that I would never have work good enough to display. Now, I find it inspiring and while my work still isn’t up to the standards that were on display that day instead of it leaving me crushed I can see it as something to aspire to.
Leaving the art fair with my confidence in tact was unexpected but not as surprising as the hit it would take over the next 24-hours. Tired from the drive and walking I went to bed early. The next morning I was up early and found myself in an area outside Kansas City that I had only ever been to with my kiddos. When we first moved to Missouri in 2006 my husband found himself hauling cattle. This meant that he would be gone for at least a week, most often two weeks at a time. It was a huge adjustment for our family. The weekends he was not home I would take the kids on “adventures”. Open houses, hiking, exploring all the different suburbs and finding activities that kept us busy. Revisiting one of those places, on this particular weekend, brought up so many memories and emotions that I quite simply was overwhelmed by it.
That perfect Sunday morning I sat at a little table in front of this beautiful door and allowed myself to dream. My dream was big and when it began to scare me, I just kept dreaming bigger until I had a sudden moment of realization that brought me crashing back to earth. A week later, while sharing it with my best friend over coffee I crashed again as I choked over the words “…that is a part of my dream that I will never have.”
My dream was about my future and who I hope to be. It included vivid details about where I lived, where I worked, what I wore, what I drove, the people I would know and what my typical day would be like. It’s meant to be an exercise that gives you vision and motivation but it also made me face some realities that I have been ignoring. I really do believe in living your best self and that the only personal responsible for my life, my joy, my successes and failures; is me. However, part of that joy and accomplishment means that I cannot just go and do whatever suits me or whatever I dare to dream up because I’m not going to have joy and success in my life if I disregard the people in my life who matter to me most. Seeing my dream completely crumple around me based on the realization that there were certain aspects that I would most likely have to forego because it would be a detriment to some of my relationships was hard but then I heard someone on a podcast talking about this very thing. They used the example of how we think if we move to a certain place, live in a certain kind of home, etc. that we think it will make our dreams come true but the reality is that, that is just geography. You’re still going to carry all the same baggage into that new place. God really does work in mysterious ways sometimes. While I allowed myself to dream in vivid details, that does not mean that every detail matters or has to be a reality in order for my dream to come true.
My kiddos are no longer little. My oldest is about to have her own baby! Going back to this place, and remembering those wonderful moments made me realize just how quickly life is passing by. In just a couple short months another year will be beginning and when I look back on this past year I see a lot of growth but I also am aware of the fear I continue to allow to keep me from moving forward. Sitting in that space on a Sunday morning, surrounded by memories of time spent and gone was hard and bittersweet but it was also a chance for me to take stock and listen to my heart. I had gone believing that the art fair would help me find my direction and in some respects, it did, but it was my time spent reminiscing that continues to impact me as I begin to plan and make choices about what lies ahead. Maybe, sometimes, the best way to figure out what you want for your future is take a little trip back in time.