This week I found out that I will be a Grandfather to a precious baby girl next summer. As we watched the video of their adorable gender reveal, chills ran through my body. As the slice of cake transitions from black and white to reveal the pink center, my heart melts. I am going to be a girl grandpa!
Be Still and Commit to the Process
I swear I had my final reflective word for 2023 picked out for about a month now. It was gonna be something real sly to cap off the year. But now, equipped with this marvelous revelation, I was reminded of one of the strongest lessons this whole process has taught me – don’t get too far ahead of yourself. It defeats the purpose of being in a state of true reflection. Just BE STILL in the moment and allow yourself the space to simply BE.
When I began this journey I thought the biggest challenge would be actually finding the time to actually write it. While there have been times where I got the piece out on a Saturday instead of a Friday, each week I found ways to get it done. I was committed to the process.
There were a few weeks where writer’s block kicked in. Several weeks were largely a blur, and there just didn’t seem to be anything that really jumped out. It was in those moments where I realized there was a need to dig deeper, beyond surface reflections. I also came to rest, knowing that each week didn’t have to be some profound, life-changing reflection. Sometimes it was just a simple lesson I may have been reminded of, a family member I’d thought about, the love and appreciation I have for my wife, or the deep love and gratitude that comes with being a father.
Over time, it became what it was supposed to be – a truly reflective journey. It didn’t have to be some cataclysmic event that happened in the world, or to me. It could be as simple as embracing the time and space to sit, think, feel, and be. To say this year has been transformative in this sense is an understatement. Quite honestly, I could not have written a more fitting script to finish out this year’s journey.
I’m so excited to embark on the new year. I know that 2024 will bring about a new, beautiful transformation as I enter my Grandpa Era. My grandparents are no longer with us. Kerrie’s have passed on, as well. In our small, close-knit family, the only grandparent that’s around for our children is Kerrie’s mother, Colleen. Both of our fathers live out of state and we don’t get an opportunity to see them much at all. And there is not a day that passes that I don’t think about how much of a presence my mother would be in Jordan, Lauren, and Landon’s lives.
It’s quite perplexing how some who have every opportunity to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives will find every opportunity not to. Then you have those who you know would give their last breath for their grandchildren, yet they have no breath left to give. I know that’s just the way life goes, but the irony can be infuriatingly confusing.
Through it all, I can only control what I can control. And that is simply being who I need to be for my family. By no means a perfect man, but a steady, positive presence in the lives of the people I love.
Long ago I came to the realization that it’s not necessarily others who disappoint us. It’s our expectations of others to do something that is simply beyond their capacity that disappoints us. So, with that, I choose to lean into it, control what I can control, let go of resentment, love from afar, and be for my family that which I longed for as a child, young man, and now, as an adult.
None of this ever came down to earthly possessions for me. The person who loved me more than anything in this world had nothing material to leave me when she left the earth. But what she did leave was her spirit of love, affection, and compassion. She left her relentless work ethic and tenacity for standing up for those in need. She left me her joy in the face of adversity, her ability to take notice, and celebrate the small things in life. My mother left me with a legacy that dwells deep within my soul. She sits here with me, today, on what would be my mother’s 67th birthday, putting the final touches on my last reflective piece of 2023. Happy Birthday, Mama! I love you! Thank you for continuing to guide my hand in all things!
Transitioning to What’s Next
This has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done…and that’s coming from someone who’s undergone the grueling beast of completing a pretty arduous doctoral program. I’ve tried to keep it as authentic and raw as I possibly could. There were moments of joy, pain, chaos, clarity, peace, conflict, anger, frustration, comfort, learning, unlearning, and everything in between. And isn’t that life? This journey has left an indelible impact on the way I will navigate the next chapters that unfold.
Many asked if I will continue these weekly reflections. I’ve yet to land on a firm answer to that question, but it definitely is my plan to continue to grow as a writer. And, with that, comes a lot of writing.
Prior to January of this year, much of my writing was in isolation – for my eyes only – hyper-focused on capturing my experience since July of 2021, when our world absolutely imploded. It has always been my hope to partner with a publisher, at some point, to tell that story. Not so much the story the media wanted to run with, but the real story that needs to be shared. A narrative that helps shine a light on what truly plagues our communities, and how we build a meaningful way forward for our kids and each other.
This year has given me the space to take a step back from a trauma-filled last couple years. This process has slowly allowed me to reclaim pieces of me that had been beaten, battered, and stripped away. While the healing continues to this day, I am in a much better place through taking this year’s journey. I have started the process of narrowing down prospective agents to help guide this endeavor and I am excited to see what’s next!
I want to thank you all for joining me on this crazy journey. Even those who may have just popped in for one or two blogs – I appreciate you. I hope you found something that resonated with you.
Some of you have been consistent partners in this endeavor to complete this journey. Truly, my biggest cheerleaders. Each week you’ve left feedback on my website or you’ve made comments when I’ve posted my musing is in longform on social media. There are far too many of you to thank individually. Please know that I am forever grateful for you.
To my amazing wife, Kerrie – thank you so much for always believing in me and pushing me on towards things I once thought impossible. You inspire me every day. I am so very fortunate to have you by my side on this magically wild ride through life. You are my rock, my best friend, my everything! I love you!
To my children, Jordan, Lauren, and Landon – you are God’s greatest gifts. I’m so honored to be your father. It has been such a joy to watch your journeys unfold; each so very unique, yet similar, at the same time. You enrich my life in more than I can put together in words. Thank you for being my north star, my loves! I’m forever in your corner!
The Gift of the Next Chapter
Every day. Each week. Each month that we get is truly a gift, no matter where we may land on the spinning wheel of emotion and circumstances. Sooner or later, things will get better. And, in a moment, things can get worse. But the wheel will keep on turning.
It is my deepest hope and prayer that as you navigate the days and weeks ahead is that you will grant yourself the grace to be still in the moments. Whether good or bad, there are lessons to be learned but so often we’re too busy trying to move to the next leg of the journey that we miss them.
Make time to reflect often. It doesn’t have to be a blog post. It could be a sticky note, a note on your phone, a text to a loved one with your thoughts – it can be whatever. But make the time to practice self-reflection. I encourage you to make a habit of it. Set a frequent reminder to do so to begin. Over time, I guarantee you’ll find yourself more dialed in than you’ve ever been and you won’t need the reminder.
For many of us, we will be embarking on new endeavors as the calendar year turns. For some (myself included), it will be the all too familiar chase of better health in the new year. Others may be looking to transition to a new career path or promotional aspirations. There’s a couple (or two) out there who are venturing out into the new waters of a serious relationship. And some families out there are looking to become first time parents.
In all situations, trust the process. There will be times of frustration. There will be times that things are going smoothly. And there will be times where it will seem frustratingly smooth. It’s all part of your unique journey towards what’s next for you. I can’t wait to see what the new year brings you!
Thanks again for being here! Wishing you peace and abundance in your next chapter, and beyond!