Thankful for my People
When I first met Jodi, getting involved in a relationship with her did not seem like a good idea to me. She was as lovely then as she is now but, at the time, she scared me. She had young teenage children, she was self-employed, and she had recently gone through a divorce. In a word: chaos. Having grown up in a family where emotional messiness was a regular part of life, I was certain that I didn’t want to embark on a relationship with someone who was likely to add to it. Gratefully, I eventually relented, and it was absolutely the best decision I ever made. It turned out that, although Jodi did bring a lot with her, most of it has been in the form of behaviors and qualities that make me a much better version of myself.
Instead of living a very stilted, tiny, safe life where havoc doesn’t exist, I’ve learned to trust Jodi and her ability to manage her own life (something I didn’t see anyone do in my family). In turn, it lets me practice not trying to control the outside world and focus on navigating my responses to it instead. What that means is that the responsibility for my own peace of mind is on me, not on the people in my life. But Jodi being an emotionally responsible adult has allowed that to happen. Her willingness to listen to what I feel, to tell me the truth about what she feels, and to be consistently compassionate toward me says a lot of wonderful things about her. But it also lets me be the best rendition of myself that I possibly can.
I am reminded regularly that our relationships are where we practice being humans.
And that is really what I’m appreciating and savoring these days—that the people in my life make me better. It's one of my favorite things about getting older. When I was younger, I formed relationships—both romantic and platonic—much more randomly, and many times for the wrong reasons. But I’ve learned more about myself as I've aged. What I want now is for my connections with the people in my life to be authentic, balanced, and growing. It sounds simple, but I get it that it isn’t.
I just feel luckier and luckier that I have so many opportunities to be who I am. It is my good fortune to be challenged in healthy ways by my people, to practice communicating better, to be able to say what I need and what I’m working on, and to hear those same things from others with an open mind and heart. I am so blessed to have that in my life with Jodi, with Mary, Dianne, Dave, Kim, Stephanie, Doug, Gia, my Goucher pals, and so many more. And I am reminded regularly that our relationships are where we practice being humans. Sometimes that means we might behave badly, but mostly it represents a chance to be the very best we can be.
When I was a young adult in my first career-focused job, buying a house, mowing my lawn, paying taxes, and doing all of the things we do to become full grown-ups, I didn’t think very much about the power of people in my life to help me similarly. I probably considered how we literally help each other—lending a hand, a few dollars, a friendly ear—but it wasn’t until I was further along my path that I came to appreciate the depth and value of relationships. I’ve learned more from my tribe than I ever have from school or work. In fact, it’s my relationships with people in every arena that actually help me excel at whatever I'm trying to do.
It’s funny to me now that, 20 years ago, Jodi scared me when we first met. It’s even more humorous when I realize how much wackiness in my earlier life didn’t scare me. But what I’ve learned is how good my family of friends are for me on a daily basis. They keep me honest and grounded and awake and alive—on every level. The pandemic makes me notice every shining moment in my life these days. My people are there in every one.