So, I spent the last two weeks traveling. I went back to Asheville for the first time since we moved here to Bend, Oregon four years ago. I was unsure how it would be going back because moving away from there was difficult for me. I was sad to leave a place I fell in love with so much. I thought maybe I'd get back and not want to come home again. My visit was lovely and I enjoyed all the things I loved before: the warm air, constant and vibrant song of birds, fireflies. lush trees, Blue Ridge Mountains, light humidity that leaves my skin feeling hydrated and glowing, and more. But instead of not wanting to come back to Bend, I wrapped up my time in Asheville with a longing for HOME in my high desert mountains like never before. I missed my trails, brilliant blue skies, cool mornings and evenings, snow capped mountains and yes, even the dry air. It was a trip that brought me home feeling more grateful than I've felt in a long time. After returning home in the middle of the night, I woke up this morning with every part of me singing with gratitude for my right here, right now.
On my flight home yesterday from Charlotte to Seattle, we shared the plane with the Special Olympics team of North Carolina. When I arrived to the airport I was tired and ready to be home. It was just me and my three kids boarding the plane and at first I found myself feeling annoyed at how long it was taking to get on the plane. Many of these Special Olympians had never been on a plane before. It took awhile for them to find their seats, load their luggage and let others in. As soon as I started to board, I became so aware of how joyful and excited these athletes were and their joy started to rub off on me. I ended up giving my seat away to a chaperone who needed to sit next to a girl with down syndrome so that meant my kids sat in a row by themselves and I sat behind them. As soon as I sat down, the young man next to me greeted me with a "Hello Ma'am. I'm so very excited about this trip!" He talked to me throughout the whole flight... asking me questions, telling me about his life, letting me know he was excited, and sharing random facts he's learned. As the hours went by, I felt my heart open in gratitude and awe in seeing how simply and beautifully the people around me were so present in their moment. When the pilot announced that they were almost ready to descend, the plane broke out in applause and a chorus of cheers. Again, when the pilot gave us the next update. And again and again with every announcement that said we were closer to our arrival. Squeals of joy. Laughter. Cheers. High Fives. When the plane landed, I couldn't help but smile so big in seeing how happy and truly in the moment the people on this plane were. They were showing what it looks like to LIVE in the present moment with gratitude and joy. To see life like the miracle and gift it is. The young men in the back row could be heard just laughing and making up a game together as they looked out the window at the clouds. The girl in the row across from me was laughing because she was... simply... happy and excited about being on an airplane. They were heading for what they saw as the best moment of their lives. When we started walking off the plane, my nine year old son said how much he loved this flight so much more than any other he's been on. He said, "People were so happy and nice! They actually talked to you. It was like a community!" My girls agreed that they loved seeing how happy and real and alive everyone was. What a gift that flight was. It gave me a fresh perspective for my life. There is so much right in front of our faces to be thankful for. So many every day moments that can be celebrated and seen in new ways. If we all saw the world... our every day moments... a little more like those young athletes on the plane, I think we'd all be a little happier and more present in our lives.
I'm so excited for these coming weeks. I plan to make the very most of it. My intentions:
- Explore something new about my HOME city every week.
- Run. Run. Run. Maybe even train for some sort of race.
- Wake up early to have quiet time in my journal and stillness before the day gets rolling.
- Be mindful of gratitude, kindness, and connection.
- Find JOY in the every day moments.
- Write. Write. Write for me. Nobody else.
- Way way less checking social media. Bad habit.
- Respond. Respond. Respond to my kids with patience, love, and kindness. When I can't do that? Walk away and ask for space until I can.
Thank you Team North Carolina Special Olympics for showing me what it looks like to live life present with joy and gratitude and vulnerability. What a gift you were to my life.