Dark times and leaps of faith

Sometimes the process of building and losing can be more than you’re able to bear. Your soul compels you toward leaps of faith.

My life is wonderful these days. For the past six years, I’ve worked at a historic site I love and admire with people I respect. But there have been cycles of those dark “learning” times, that were necessary to get me here.  One of those leaps has been on my mind lately and it happens to be the one that got me here. 

In spring 2014, I took a solo vacation to Florida and then road tripped to Louisiana. I needed to reconnect to what shaped me to figure out my next evolution. It had been a few years before (about ten years ago as I write this ) that I moved from my hometown in Louisiana for a job in Philadelphia. A lot of fine accomplishments came out of that experience, including several lifelong friendships. It was a necessary step for growth in my life and personal mission and I’m grateful for it. At the time of that trip though, I was disillusioned and depressed. 

Scheduling this trip was a Hail Mary for my wellbeing. It was instinct and all I knew is there was no choice. Had to do it. And it had to be here. 

So I flew down to South Florida in the midst of a massive tornado outbreak, with flights variously diverted and bumpy. When I finally arrived and picked up my rental car I hoped the road trip portion of the trip to my hometown in Louisiana would be the restful experience I needed to clear my head and get some perspective. I was within three hours of my destination when I got  onto the 18-mile Atchafalaya Basin bridge where a tanker truck had fallen over and set the bridge on fire, trapping me for more than two hours. Here’s what I tweeted from there:

Pretty pathetic, eh? Sometimes I take the Universe personally if everything has been directed against me. I’ve worked at it, and trust me, have come a long way in that regard.

As soon as I hit the city limits my hometown I felt I was back where I belong. So little changes in a small town even over the course of three years it was like I never left. For the next three days I found myself the embrace of my Mom and extended family; a feeling that I had not experienced since I left. She cooked all of my favorite things: fried porkchops, gumbo, chicken and dumplings, banana pudding … for a moment, all was right.

Road tripping back to South Florida, I felt like I met my destiny. The vibrancy of the culture and the warmth of the climate felt like slipping into my skin and I felt a new me emerging in the process. A few months later, that recognition suddenly manifested a job opportunity, in Miami. While that workplace situation was ultimately a stepping stone, it moved me along to where I needed to be, and that’s where I remain. Other areas of my life crumbled and rebuilt in the same fashion even going into the COVID era. It’s been a process of “painful but more perfect.”

Now in my 50th year, I’ve experienced these cycles a handful of times and no doubt they will come back around at some point. But I’ve learned to trust my instincts, and the machinations of the universe, in each rotation. As long as I can remember to run into that next leap I’ll be okay.

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