While waiting in line at the grocery store a few weeks ago, I glanced over at the various magazine covers cleverly placed as impulse purchases at checkout. Celeb gossip, tabloid news, and scandalous headlines were all vying for my attention. The cover of People magazine caught my eye, mostly because I noticed a photo of handsome Prince Harry! 😉
The cover story was all about the five moments that changed Oprah Winfrey’s life. Here’s the link to the online version of the article if you want to read it, but please be sure to come back here and finish reading my blog! Thanks!
Of course I am not at all famous like Oprah, but I figured the topic might make for a good blog post. After much reflecting on my past, reminiscing on both the good and the bad of my life, and trying to pick the most poignant moments, here’s what I’ve put together. A couple of these moments were rather emotional not only when they happened, but as I was typing them up. It was too hard to narrow it down to just five, so I have seven and they go in chronological order.
Seven Moments That Have Changed My Life (So Far)
Moment #1: When I Learned to Read
Although I don’t remember many of the details of how it happened, I learned to read at some point early in my elementary education like most American children. I’m pretty sure that I loved reading from the beginning, when the letters on the page formed words and those words formed new worlds of meaning. I wish I could find my teachers to thank them!
My life has been full of books and reading and words ever since! I am an avid reader. I cannot get enough books. Book worm and word nerd to the core. I absolutely LOVE reading! It is a life goal of mine to one day publish a book, even if it’s just a children’s book.
Moment #2: My First Kiss
Most people probably remember their first kiss as something memorable… at least I hope they do. Mine was truly soft, sweet, and special. I received it many years ago from my first love, Darren. That kiss was eagerly anticipated and was such a major milestone of my teenage years. And to be honest, in an innocent way it set the standard for all future kisses. Maybe it’s sentimental and silly, yes, but things like that have stuck with me from such an impressionable and emotionally charged age. Darren will always hold a special place in my heart. ❤
Moment #3: Getting Cast in My First Play
In high school, the acting bug bit me. I had been a relatively shy and introverted person my whole life, yet the first time I was on stage was truly amazing. My nervousness and fear evolved into something that felt powerful and fulfilling. The first play I ever acted in was “Twelve Angry Men” by Reginald Rose, where we adapted it to be more like twelve angry jurors. It’s a rather serious and dramatic play about a jury who has to decide the fate of a young man charged with killing his father. The energetic high I got from being on stage was enough to squash my fears, and I was hooked.
After that, I played the part of Abigail Williams of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller in my English class, Tessie in our school-wide musical production of “Annie,” and I joined my school’s Improv Troupe. I had parts in a few productions in college, and my last acting role was a five years ago as Mrs. McKee in a local production of “The Great Gatsby.” I’m still an introvert, don’t get me wrong, but somehow I can’t wait to get back on stage again!
Moment #4: Studying Abroad During College
I had never lived on my own until I lived in Portugal one summer to study abroad. It was eye-opening and so exciting to experience the culture and history, and it was the first time in my life where I had to be truly self-sufficient. Learning how to navigate the public transportation system (in a whole other language no less), converting currencies, surviving as a student, and enjoying life in a foreign country were all experiences that helped me to grow as a person. I learned a bit about independence, world travel, and life in general. I made some fun friends and we are still in contact with each other. I have a ton of great memories from that adventure!
Moment #5: Giving Birth to My First Child
It’s been difficult coming up with the right words to describe this moment and how it changed me, but I think I finally have them. Lying on the hospital bed in the Labor and Delivery department, my stores of strength were waning with each painful contraction that wracked my body. I was laboring too quickly to get an epidural and so, not only was I scared, I was in incredible pain. The nurses said I had a pretty high tolerance to pain and that helped boost my spirits a little. Millions of women had given birth successfully without pain meds; I could, too.
My doctor noticed that my baby was beginning to show early signs of distress with each contraction, so he told me that he’d have to use the vacuum extractor on her tiny head to help get her out safely. That worried me even more, but by that point, I was exhausted and ready for it all to be over with. A few more excruciating contractions later, using my remaining strength to push and with the aid of the vacuum, my dear daughter Emily was born. Brahms’ Lullaby was played over the hospital’s intercom to announce the birth of my precious baby. Oh how I cried! Tears of joy, tears of exhaustion, tears of relief, tears of an instant love for the most perfect little human I had ever seen! Even though I had obviously been pregnant for 9 months prior to her birth, I truly became a mom the second she was born.
Moment 6: Learning My Older Brother Had Cancer
It’s interesting how the optimist in me automatically began lessening the severity of my brother’s words when he announced to us that he had cancer. It was sweet but naive of me to think that he’d be able to fight it. Tragic and harsh reality quickly settled in as he continued to explain that it was Stage 4 and the cancer was in a couple of bones, lymph nodes, and organs. At that moment, I knew I had to be the strongest person I’ve yet ever to be. Not only for my brother, but for myself, for my mom, for my younger brother, for my whole family. I researched his extremely rare form of cancer and with only a 36% survival rate, right away my heart began breaking at his impending death. I only showed worry and grief to my husband and friends, but made sure to remain cheerful, hopeful, and upbeat to my family. Tom and my mom needed that. Although I prayed harder than I ever have in my entire life, I knew that Tom’s time with us was going to be shorter than we’d want. That was sometime in March 2013.
I got a call from my mom in the wee hours of the morning of June 26, 2013 to hurry to the hospital. On the drive there, I saw a shooting star and in my heart I knew it was God coming to take my brother’s soul to Heaven. I made it in time. He was hooked up to all sorts of machines and there were a number of doctors and nurses around him. His heart was weak from the cancer and from a round of chemotherapy, and his lungs had fluid in them from a recent respiratory infection. His heart stopped but they were able to resuscitate him. That was the most traumatic thing I’ve ever had to witness. My mom was an absolutely distraught mess and so I had to be the brave one and remind her that this was no way for Tom to live and that we had to let him go. We said our goodbyes and then a few minutes later his heart stopped again. He passed away surrounded by people who loved him. It’s been 6 years. Life has not been the same.
Moment #7: Finishing My First Half Marathon
No matter how long it would take, FINISH was my only goal when I signed up for my first half marathon a few years ago. Even if I had to crawl across the finish line, I was determined to finish. I talked to a couple of runner friends, read a few online articles on how to train, trained to the best of my unskilled abilities for a few months, and then race day arrived.
With excitement and an eagerness to accomplish something out of my comfort zone, I joined ranks at the start line. Off with the masses at the sound of the signal, I fell into an easy rhythm that would sometimes speed up or slow down depending on the thickness of the crowd of runners around me, as well as the pace of the music playing through my headphones. Around Mile 7 was when I began to wonder why I had signed up and paid money for this. I got an awesome motivational boost from a good friend stationed at Mile 8, saw my kiddos cheering me on at Mile 9, and was able to continue smoothly for another two miles. However, my legs were on fire (not in a good way) near the end. I stopped to take a selfie at the Mile 12 marker and to reassess my body and reserves of energy. My last GU packet had long worn off, but I knew the finish line was only 1.1 more miles away. So I took the advice of my high school track coaches from years ago and “dug deep” to give one last kick to finish my race! Not walking, not crawling, but actually running.
Ever since then, anything less than 13.1 miles no longer seems scary or crazy. I did another half marathon last year and slightly improved my time. This year, I did the relay and had to run a little over 7 miles. It’s awesome how my perspective on mileage and the capability of my body has changed! Half marathon, relay, 10K, or 5K? Bring it.
I hope to hear from you in the comments about the moments that changed your life. Maybe we even have some in common! As always, thanks for stopping by. ❤