YOLO, Part 1

Maybe it was the anti-climatic Times Square acts, maybe it was an overdose of Ryan Seacrest, maybe it was because the ball wasn’t as pretty, but on December 31st, 2017 I decided I was going to make some changes. I realized how unremarkable my life seemed and I was determined to change it.

It was as if turning 46 just a few weeks earlier sent me into this weird phase and my relationship with time was transformed. As if on some sort of cue, the mirror reflected my years on this planet. And I did not like it one bit, nor did I feel like I’d lived enough life to match that mirror reflection. At the beginning of 2018, I had a twilight zone moment. I suddenly became aware of how the preceding decade was just gone, and I felt like I had very little to show for it.

So, I decided to have a YOLO year. I will admit, since I don’t hang out with high school kids anymore, there may have been a time when I had to google what that even meant.

“You Only Live Once”. It’s a fact for sure, but also the recognition of such and my drastic changes in behavior to make the most of every moment presented challenges. I don’t know if the expectation bar was too high or it the year itself was just going to be one like so many before, filled with loss, pain, health problems and blindsiding news. Either way, it will be the year I remember that I found God faithful, maybe more than ever before.

The year started fine but I’d began having appetite and stomach issues. Looking back, these issues became prohibitively difficult when we were in Maine just a few weeks before that New Years Eve when I decided to make my unremarkable life remarkable. I was convinced that the stomach and food issues were linked to stress, and certainly it played a part. But, as ironic as it may seem, my desire to have a YOLO year, as difficult as it started and is ending should never be able to happen.

My desire to make the most of every moment is a miracle. It is a reflection of deeper healing. Healing that is so profound that it has changed the landscape of my faith and outlook on life.

We had our annual girls weekend in January and my friends began commenting on my weight loss and I would smile and nod and chalk it up to stress. The girls weekend was a lot of fun and certainly my YOLO desire brought with it behaviors like putting down my phone in the presence of other people and shutting my laptop even if I needed to work. My love language is quality time and not unlike most people, I have a deep longing for more of it—sans the personal computer in our hands stealing our time. I became aware of my desire to be present and stop with any illusion that I can ever be anything near perfect. That quote “Present Over Perfect” became popular in 2018, but it truly was and is the desire of my heart.

We entered into 2018 as our 9th year at Watermark, and while that is certainly something to celebrate, it was an incredibly stressful year. I knew it was going to be and the hard conversations and decisions that had to happen was NOT on my YOLO list! Oftentimes, I stared at that fancy MBA on my wall with about as much bitterness as I do when I write the check every month to (still) pay for it. That very expensive piece of paper did little to bridge that huge stress gap, or the toll it took on me as evidenced by how badly I felt all the time, or by watching my body waste away because apparently food wasn’t on the YOLO list either.

I am not a CEO, not a good one anyway. I don’t mean that as a knock on myseIf. I don’t think being in leadership and having a heart for people are mutually exclusive but I don’t have the cut throat personality that often goes with the title. I am not willing to harm a human being for any amount of money or success. But, nevertheless, we had to make some changes and that took it’s toll on me. I continued to drop weight and I would go days without eating. And I didn’t care either.

Before spring rolled around, there were more YOLO moments, a Billy Joel concert with amazing tickets that cost stupid money, weekends in Jacksonville reconnecting with family, a lazy day spent on the river kayaking with manatee (and probably a few alligators) with Michelle and her too grown kids, our annual gathering in Crystal River with POstable friends and many other pretty cool things.

A cross country flight took me to a bucket list item and I fought the food demons on an Alaskan cruise. If I were to leave this planet today, know this: that trip was very near the top of my bucket list. Late spring brought with it a trip to Philadelphia with Crissy and Joy where we were in pure bliss. We hung out with one of our favorite authors, got a ton of free books, and made more memories. Weight continued to drop, people got louder and I continued to nod and smile.

Before summer I felt the intense pain of yet another loss. Kevin (step son) and I were rebuilding a relationship. He was clean and having him back in my life began healing a part of my heart and it was amazing. Hearing him call me “Mom” and watching him slay the heroine demon was truly not only one of the highlights of the year, but maybe of the decade. It was Joy so unexplainable that it’s probably easier to describe the pain that a single Facebook message brought. After a year clean, this 32 year old beautiful soul stepped out into eternity with a needle in his arm.

I was devastated. Besides the obvious, I can’t explain the devastation or what his death did in its attempts to derail my emotional healing. I couldn’t accept it as just another loss, and I found myself on an island, wondering as John The Baptist did, was Jesus really the Expected One?

By June, even I was scared of what I saw when I finally got on a scale. As part of my YOLO year, I’d planned a 3 week trip away to visit one of my closest and best friends and her family. I thought the change of scenery would serve me well, and Amy is an amazing cook with a family to feed, so I had thinly veiled hopes that I could jump start my appetite to stop the now scary weight loss. While my time there was amazing, and good for my soul, I got on the plane to go home at least 10 pounds lighter than when I’d left.

So July (really the entire summer) was filled with doctors, needles, MRIs, CT scans, bloodwork and 3 separate surgical procedures. At the end of all of those test and procedures more diagnoses of more health issues poured in, and I was officially out of the capacity to deal with any of it. Concern from friends and family felt more like a pressure cooker and I simply had zero ability to deal with any of it.

But Jesus.

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