It was 6:30 a.m. and my family was still asleep, but my dog Mikah and I ventured out in the negative 2-degree temperature after a foot of snow had fallen the night before.
I watched her run through the open field behind the house after letting her off the leash. Her paws swooshing through the deep snow was the only sound of this early morning walk. That dog seems to love winter over any other time of year. It’s a time of year that I have grown to dread over the years…and this morning was Christmas eve.
As I watched her jump at snowballs I tossed her way, I was reminded of the thrill of getting up early to go sledding with my sister when we were kids. Or eating the “skier’s breakfast” my dad made for us so we could get a head start on the mornings of our yearly ski trips. The anticipation of Christmas was a month-long countdown that my sister and I would document with a mouse made of construction paper with a paper chain tail. Each loop represented a day. Each night, we would take a loop off the chain, meaning one day closer to Christmas. We usually made this project December 1st, So his tail would be at least 25 loops long. And since we hung the mouse on the fridge with a magnet, his tail would trail all the way down the side of the refrigerator and gather in a heap on the floor.
Over the years, kid crafts and sledding were replaced with side walk shoveling and nervous winter condition driving. And somehow the holidays creep up with only days to spare instead of a full month-long anticipation. The past three years have been particularly hard. With no explanation other than a mix of bad luck and learning curves preceded by trial and errors of trying to be an adult. I find myself wanting to take that long winter’s nap in hopes that I would sleep straight through the holiday season. “Find joy in the small things,” is my morning mantra. “Be thankful for what you do have,” I try to add. But sometimes, life is just hard and it never turns out the way we thought it would when we were younger.
Mikah nudged me with her nose in the back of my leg. “Come play with me!” is what that usually means. I started running through the snow and she followed.
I started thinking about how many places I’ve called home in my 20s. Both coasts, with a few states in between. “We can’t run from our issues,” my mom would always say. “No matter where we move, we can’t escape ourselves.” It took me moving to five states to truly learn that. I used to always pack up and leave when things got too hard. I thought that somehow, the next place I go, life would be better. At the time, I really didn’t know how valuable each detour proved to be. Each state I lived in was a big chapter in my life, teaching me huge lessons. Some I wish I didn’t need to learn. But sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places. And life has a funny way of revealing hidden magic at appropriate times.
I’m 29 now, and I’m at a point in life where, five years ago, I would be well on my way to be running again. But this time, I know physically packing up and moving only postpones the inevitable.
In the past few weeks I’ve had plenty of friends tell me how much I need or deserve a new slate in the new year. And even if they’re right, I have to be open to whatever 2016 has to offer. We’re right where we need to be. Things are happening as they should. And I’m not going to try to run away from myself anymore.
The sun started to rise over the ridge that morning. Mikah and I turned back to the house, and in that moment, I felt peace. A feeling of relief that even in a list of stresses I’m barely getting through, I’m happy with my life. I’m hopeful to think of the possibility of a new chapter, a new year. I’m thankful for my dog, who gets me outside when otherwise I would still be asleep. I love my home and the friends I’ve made in beautiful Colorado. And I know I’m right where I need to be.
Author: Megan Lamb
Editor: Caroline Beaton