No, this blog isn’t about Steve Jobs, whose life certainly was extraordinary. The newspapers and Internet were full of pieces singing his praises today. He was an amazing man.
This blog is about me. I realized today that I’ve had an extraordinary life, and I thought I’d share some of it with you.
I was blessed to be born into a family that cared about each other and which had parents who were able to provide us with everything we needed and much of what we wanted. I never did get that Chevrolet for my high school graduation, but I was allowed to drive the family car, even after I had a wreck in it!
I’ve lived in six states, the first of which was California, where I was born and brought up in a lovely home, immaculately cared for by my mom, my grandmother and me and my two sisters. (Dad and the boys took care of the outside, of course. They mowed the lawn, painted the white fence and took the car when it needed an oil change.) That’s how it was back then. Men did men’s work and women did women’s work and rarely did the twain ever meet.
I went to college first at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. I loved it. I loved being away from home, and I loved being a college student. It was a gorgeous campus. I fell in love in my sophomore year and dropped out of school. I got to see nearly every state in the union as a result of that marriage. My daughter’s dad worked for a traveling opera company. We wound up in New Paltz, NY during the summer of 1968, just down the road from yes, you guessed it, Woodstock. But we had to work, so we couldn’t go!
Later we wound up in Florida, where we lived for most of the rest of our marriage and where my only child, a much beloved and long-awaited daughter, was born. While we were married we went to lots of Bluegrass festivals, which I never appreciated until many years later. After the opera company I worked as a telephone operator at the old fashioned switchboard and cord contraption. I used to regularly get in trouble for talking with my best friend, the coolest hippie I ever knew.
We eventually moved to California, where my husband was going to graduate school and where we finally split up in a very nasty divorce. So much pain around that divorce that I thought I’d never live through it, but somehow I did.
A few years later, I went back to finish my degree, but it hasn’t done me a whole lot of good. The best thing that came from it was being accepted to teach English to the managers of Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea almost 15 years later. Before I went to Korea I went to Mexico and after I got back, I traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Chattanooga and Savannah, two very cool cities.
I eventually went back to South Korea for another 10 months. That trip didn’t work out the way I’d planned, but I wound up learning a lot in the process.
I’ve had a business burn down, an apartment catch on fire, a house flood and have been evicted once. I’ve had more financial troubles than I care to state, horrible arguments with family and now I have a chronic illness that has kept me mostly house-bound for the last eight months or so. Lots of other stuff has gone on as well.
But I’ve had an extraordinary life. I’ve had the privilege of touching people’s hearts and lives in three other countries. People I don’t even know have written to me praising my writing. God has occasionally nudged me in the right direction, and He has helped turn me around when I was going the wrong way. I’ve met some amazing people who have shared their experiences, strength and hope with me and some others who have needed mine. For most of my life I haven’t liked myself. I don’t know why. But I do know that, as Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a changin’.”
At least today they are. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t deep in despair a few days ago. I was. But today I am not, and that is the most extraordinary thing of all – I have been given the gift of being able to bounce back no matter what befalls me and whether it is an act of God or something of my own making.
I’m not saying it’s been easy. It hasn’t. But what I’ve noticed more than anything is that God is always there with me, no matter what is going on in my life. I may not always recognize it at the time, but I’ve come to realize this is true over the course of my whole life.
And you, my fair reader, are part of the many blessings I’ve had bestowed on me. Thanks for your reading, and thanks for being you! You, too, are extraordinary, even though you might not have thought of yourself as being that way.