To be honest, I don't even know what I mean by the title of this post. It just sums up the sense of life I have lately. I've blogged (and talked to friends) at length about how happy this whole scout leader thing has made me. But it's more than happiness. It's a feeling that this is what I was meant to do.
A confession: at an earlier stage in life I was planning on attending the seminary. I felt called to the ministry. I felt it when my mom died. Deeply. The moment was when I was sitting with her in the hospital, waiting for her to die. She was comatose, and had been for some number of days. There was an older woman down the hall in the hospice area, all alone, and every time I passed by her room I could hear her weeping. I was overwhelmed with pity---my comatose mother spent no time alone in her last days, yet here was this woman, wide awake, all alone, waiting to die. I wanted to hold her hand. I wanted to to comfort her, and tell her it would all be okay. At that moment I felt deeply and profoundly more sorry for her than even for myself about to lose a mother.
I guess that was the real, true moment that pulled me out of my own head, and made me start to ask the question "how can I help?" over "what's in it for me?"
And yet the seminary didn't happen. A toddler at home, another baby on the way, a father dying of cancer, and a husband traveling for work was all hard enough. Then dad died. Being the executor of the estate and having to coordinate the extensive rehab and sale of my parents' home finished the job of crushing me. At least for a while. I felt I was alone in many ways.
Six years or so later, I realized I'd kind of got the hang of being a mom. I'd thrown myself into the busyness of home life: the baking of the cookies, the laundry, the garden, the family functions, the activities. Reading books to my babies got me through my grief more than anything. I listed to Oprah, even though I thought it was stupid, and kept a gratitude journal. Wrote down good things a day. I started volunteering for things at the kids' preschool, and later at their school. I challenged myself to making sour relationships better. I nurtured my friendships. I made time for my husband. I made crafts and photographed and blogged. I made my house more beautiful.
Sometime around a year ago, I realized I was getting the hang of being happy. My thoughts didn't automatically turn dark when things would go wrong. I spent a little time with who Nathan used to call "My Big Friend Up There." I basically opened myself up to my Creator and said okay, use me. Show me the way, and I'll do my best to follow.
As I've mentioned before, this year took unexpected turns. I became Nathan's den leader, with a lot of support from the Cubmaster and the parents. I started walking then working out at the gym with my friend Erin. I also began volunteering at school in a big way. And now I've agreed to take over as Cubmaster in 2014. Once upon a time, all of these things would have seemed impossible to me. I would have felt alone and overwhelmed. But I've learned a truth that reminds me of the writings of Joseph Campbell: that in the journey, when the "hero" accepts his/her path, helpers start appearing from all around. This has totally been the case with me. I'm making friends all over the place: in scouts, at the gym, at school. Wherever I go anymore I meet some new, encouraging spirit. And as the challenges arise, I face them with a resolution to rise to them.
And as I gain confidence, it spreads to other factions of life. I'm calmer with the kids. I'm more easy going with Ken. I have a better ability to prioritize around the house. And I don't suffer from the anxiety that I used to. I don't question my purpose anymore. I know that, for me, asking how can I help? is the path to take. It always leads me somewhere good. Like last night, making catapults with seven crazy 7-year-old cubscouts. When they ask me questions, or they misbehave, or they need help, or they're crying because the popsicle sticks won't hold together, I somehow find the words. And I know it's not all "me." It's not anything to do with me. It's my willingness to follow, to be patient, and to listen. That's it.
With all of these things, I'm getting the hang of it.