Be Still. Be Free. Be Content.
A lifestyle blog about achieving balance in your everyday life.
Late the other night, as I laid in bed, a name came to me. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to think of a person, whom over 20 years ago, had a significant influence on my life. I’m confident she does not know the impact she had, and in some way, I wanted to acknowledge her. Out of nowhere, I said, “Kathleen Sherfick.”
Entering into my midlife, I see the world from such a different perspective. Even 5 years ago, I didn’t have this gift of clarity. Now, I understand that if you give a situation enough space, and if you are able to distance yourself from the emotion, everything has a way of working out.
Coming up on the start of this new school year, it will be 23 years since I was a freshman at Albion College. I still remember move-in day at Wesley Hall. Mom, Dad, and Chad were there. Mom made my bed for me the last time as a boy. It was such a special feeling of support from my family, and pride in what was to become.
Entering into Albion, I was given an English placement exam, and to my frustration I tested into English 100. My ego was bruised. I thought, “How could this be?” I had done very well in English classes in high school. For nearly 20 years, I complained about testing into English 100 as an A student in high school.
Reflecting back, I now see that English 100 with Dr. Kathleen Sherfick was the most influential and important class that I would take in college. It led to my awareness of where I lacked and it opened the doors to me working hard on strengthening my ability to communicate.
If you could see me fight it in 1994. I had class at 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Wednesday night was drinking night. Attendance was mandatory and we had to write out our papers in pencil in class. Todd Rutledge was my savior as he tutored me to prepare for my work in class. On my book shelf I still have her green text book with my notes in the pages.
This new perspective of life has had even greater impact. 3 1/2 years ago, as I slept next to my brother, Chad, in a chair in his room at the hospice home, I was full of anger and frustration. I thought, “Chad has had such challenges and it just isn’t fair that Chad, who was such an amazing person, could be dealt such a horrible deck of cards.” I was bitter and held resentment for a long time.
Fast forward today and I see his life much differently. With some distance from the emotion and with space to reflect, I now see that Chad had the most amazing life and he lived with a quality of life greater than anyone I know. I don’t focus on his struggles. Instead, I see all the battles won with such grace and determination. Chad didn’t have to cure cancer to be remembered. He will be remembered because he taught a community how to live despite having cancer. As I reflect back on his remarkable life, I think “Wow! He lived life with perfection. He mastered the ability to balance his life in such a way that it limited the roller coaster from life’s ups and downs. I’m so proud of how he managed to figure life out.”
My learning from this shift in perspective gives me hope that I’ll manage life’s ups and downs more effectively. I’ll allow myself to feel the emotion in the moment and then, before obsessing, give myself the space to remember that it’ll all work out eventually, as I remind myself of these stories and the power of Chad’s journey.