Not home from childhood, but still, more than 20 years of my life. And it feels both familiar and as if I am on the outside looking in. That says more about who I am now than it does about this place.
Some things I have learned:
1) If there is a transit strike in a town, make sure you have a rental car already reserved.
2) If you have a rental car reserved and they ask if you want to upgrade, say “no.” You may still end up with a luxury car at a discount price.
3) Keep a space for yourself where you can retreat to recoup when necessary.
4) Keep a sense of humor. Phone lines and internet access may disappear when you need them the most.
5) Keep a sense of humor dealing with people. Odds are they will see you as you once were rather than who you are now. It isn’t necessarily malicious; they just have recognized the changes yet.
6) Understand that perhaps you haven’t changed so much as just let the real you come to the surface.
7) Celebrate the happy moments, allow yourself permission to grieve whatever is lost, and look for what is good about what you see.
8) If you hang in there, some people can change how they see you. Some people can learn and grow and accept that you have done so, too.
9) It isn’t all or nothing. People who don’t recognize the change won’t necessarily always be blind to that change.
10) It’s up to us to help others see us as we are now.
11) Sometimes when we go home we can’t see the people we most want to see. It’s best to be prepared for that.
12) We are who we are. The more at peace we are with that, the more at ease we will be with others—whether they can see and celebrate who we have become or not.
13) The moments that feel the worst will not last forever.
14) Breathe. Remind yourself of the successes in your life. Find a way to smile, and then look at the situation again. Odds are that if your stress level comes down, you will find a solution to the situation.
15) No one has the power to take you back to who and where you were. You are not hostage to what others say and do if you choose not to be. You do not have to stay locked into old patterns. It IS possible to find new paths even when situations are as they once were.
16) Keep a sense of humor, no matter what. (Are you starting to notice a theme?) A trip home is only that—a trip home. It is generally finite and even if the trip were a complete disaster, you will go back to the life that is yours NOW. You will go back to the life where people know you for who you have become, not who you once were—or who they perceived you to be.
If you get the sense that my own trip home has been a mixed blessing, you would be right. But even that is not entirely a bad thing. I am discovering how resilient I am and how resourceful I can be. Within every challenge are the seeds of opportunity and blessings if we look for them. Mind you, over the past few days I have found myself thinking this is one of those blessings it’s really hard to be grateful for but....it is nonetheless a blessing and knowing that makes the...challenges...easier to deal with. I am still, as I have sometimes signed myself, April the Optimist. I hope that I will always have the courage--and wisdom!--to see life this way.
So...wishing you luck with your own trips home this holiday season and with the blessings that may be difficult to give thanks for at the time they first appear.