For most of us, even as children, we have at least a broad idea of what we want to do when we “grow up.” I remember not wanting to become a fireman or veterinarian, but always wanting to write. I don’t recall the first goal I made in soccer, or the first badge I got in Girl Scouts, but I do remember the first poem I wrote. Sitting in English class studying poetry, most of my classmates were dreading the upcoming week; I, on the other hand, was elated. I remember being told to write a pre-determined amount of stanzas and not to rhyme too often. It flowed, naturally from my soul. It wasn’t forced, or overthought. It was good; it was really good. Besides receiving an ‘A’ for the assignment, I knew I had found something. Something that I hoped to travel with me throughout the rest of my life. And it has. I am the third born to wonderful parents. I was raised in upper/ middle-class economy in middle America, attending private schools, until my junior year of high school when I decided I needed a change. Through switching scholastic environments, I got a better grasp of what I wanted for my future. I graduated from Quincy Senior High in 2004 and I then continued my education at the local community college where I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Art, in 2014. Yes, you read that correctly – it was ten years later. I don’t think I have ever experienced a decade that felt so long. Within those ten years my heart leapt with pride for our country as I stood behind classmates who traveled across seas to fight a war that many Americans around me didn’t agree with. I experienced an act of true loss for the first time when my best friend called to tell me that a fellow Marine had died in his arms after their Humvee hit an improvised explosive device. Waking up to that phone call at five in the morning is something that I will never forget. The hurt, pride for my country, and most of all the shock that it had in fact happened to someone I knew still scares me to this day.
But, my life progressed, and like many twenty something’s, I found myself in the habit of going to school in the morning and working minimum wage jobs during the evenings. Throughout those years, I did have the pleasure of becoming an aunt twice, to two wonderful little boys, and am currently awaiting the arrival of my third niece or nephew. I experienced some of the highest of highs, and some low lows. One of the lowest lows… I made a poor and potentially fatal error and decided to drink and drive, and inevitably lost my driver’s license. That experience taught me far more about the world around me and myself, than I ever thought possible. It is throughout that experience that I have found the meaning of true faith, and it is that faith that now guides me every day of my life. I have found that no matter what happens to any of us along our journey, as long as we take responsibility for our own actions, and try to right our wrongs, that we are able to be at peace with ourselves and the world around us. I try every single day to reach out and do something for someone as a living amends for the irresponsible choice I made one summer night. I have learned that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). If you or someone you know is struggling, there are many different avenues to seek help. God worked for me; however, there are also Twelve Step programs and other support groups available in our own community. For more information please call: 1-217-371-0638.