***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win 2 tickets to the Greater Cleveland Foodbank’s Market at the Foodbank? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***
Today marks five years since I moved back to Cleveland for the second time. My first move back was after graduate school, when I always knew I was coming back home. This second move was more sudden, more unexpected, but no less the absolute right choice.
The date that I moved home had somewhat faded from my memory, but this year it really hit me: 5 years. So much has changed both for me and for this city that I love. When I first moved back to Cleveland, I had a private blog to have a way to chronicle the transition home and to keep in touch with friends near and far. It was called “Grace by Inches” and I wanted to share two short entries from it with you, as the best way I can think to show how much has changed in these 5 years.
This is the first entry I wrote in Grace by Inches and is titled, “The Starting Point.”
I’m a mess. Not so much of mess that I don’t know I’m a mess, but a mess nonetheless. And now I’m also rhyming.
I’m honestly not sure how I got here. A week ago, my (ex)-fiance ended our engagement. To say I felt blindsided by it would be an understatement. The why of it all, the sadness of it all, the despair that keeps me from sleeping…that is the starting point. I have never felt less clear on my direction and my purpose and myself than I do right now. It’s not just about losing him. Losing him is horrible and heart wrenching, but it’s also about losing the picture that I had of my life. I’m a planner…I always have been. I had such a clear vision of what my future would look like. I didn’t realize the picture was drawn on an Etch-a-Sketch and in one earth-shaking conversation one Friday night, the whole picture could just disappear. I don’t have anything to replace it with right now.
Despite all of that, I’m at the starting point. I can remember this priest who used to say Mass at my high school, who loved to give homilies about grace. Grace is that calm that you feel, that overwhelming sense that you are loved and protected. I don’t mean this in an overly-religious way. This isn’t some quest to find God. This is a quest to find grace. To get back to the sense of calm and peace that I know exists, even if I can’t fathom it right now.
And this is perhaps my favorite entry. It’s called “An Actual Leap Toward Grace.” I wrote it in March 2010, before I met Matthew (who is my daily grace now), before I met a lot of you, before this blog, before the job I have now.
So, I had a moment on the trip when I verbalized something, realized that it was actually deeply true, and entered some sort of zen-like state with many positive effects for all, including not summarily threatening to quit my job and toning done my road rage. Anyway, one night when we were getting ready for dinner, I told Mom that I feel comfortable in my skin. A really simple statement and one that’s been true for a bit (not as long as I would like), but there was something about saying it, about it coming so naturally, that really made me stop and think.
I don’t know that I’ve ever before felt this comfortable and secure and happy with who I am. I always felt like there were things missing in my life or that I needed to behave a certain way (at least initially) to have people like me. Then, with the ex-fiance, it felt less like something was missing, but more and more I felt that I needed to be a different person, that who I was wasn’t who he wanted and the right answer was to change myself into the person he wanted. Post-break-up, I needed time to settle, to rediscover who I really was, and to remember that my worth wasn’t tied to his rejection of me.
And now, I’m here. In a place of feeling genuinely happy with who I am. In a place of being myself at the beginning, middle, and end. In a place of accepting that the present is good and the future is incredible. There are things I want to find in my life yet, but I’m OK not having them now and trusting that those things will come and will be better for me being in a place where I’m truly ready for them. Maybe all this has been building for awhile. All I know is that I feel different for realizing all of this. And that this is the grace that I was searching for at the beginning of this journey.*
* This is NOT the end, dear reader. First, grace (and the maintenance of it) is an evolution, a process. I got myself to this place (with more help than I ever could have imagined), but that’s not the end. That’s just the beginning of the next chapter. So, stay with me…
So, what’s the point of sharing all this? Probably more for me than for you, it’s a way for me to reflect on where I’ve been and how much has changed. But it’s also a soapbox moment for me. I’ve never been a “bloom where you’re planted” believer. I’m a believer in, “If you don’t like where you are, change it. You are not a tree.”
Five years ago, when my life changed around me, I decided I wasn’t a tree. I could pick myself up, replant myself in better soil, and find a place where I could truly flourish. So it is with all of us. Goodness knows Cleveland is the right soil for me and, if you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing it is for you too. But if it’s not, know that you have the strength, courage, and ability to find the right soil and to bloom where YOU choose to plant yourself.
Thank you, Cleveland, for an amazing five years. Here’s to so many more!