Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Letter to the Me on January 1st, 2017

Hey you there, Staci!

You are about to enter 2017 without a lot of new expectations. Sure, you know the business is about to expand; with that comes a bit of trepidation and second-guessing. Are the two of you making sound financial decisions? Is this time to follow your "gut decision" and go for it all in this dream of a one-stop shop for B&B and venue connection?

And deep down - because you've both prayed about it and discussed the pros and the cons endlessly, time and time again out on the back deck, in the mornings over coffee, in the late night hours when you both couldn't sleep...you know the decision is the right one. You feel good about it. Excited, even.  So, this decision at least is made.

2017 will conceive a multi-purpose event venue - and will come to be named "The Hitchin' Post" - along with two storage containers that will be turned into tiny cabins and placed in the woods on the B&B property. By the first of the following year the B&B will have more than doubled in size. With lots of prayer - and Lord knows lots of hard work - hopefully the B&B business will have more than doubled as well.

The three kids are doing great. The end of the year with all of them and their families and the grands all together at the Ranch is always your very favorite time of year. It usually lasts only 36-48 hours before other commitments or duties call them in different directions, but that is enough. Having them under one roof for those few meals, gathered around the same table, hearing their laughter, appreciating their differences, admiring their various talents and how many life values they share, and yet how their lives are vastly different from one another.

I've made a lot of mistakes in my lifetime. I've make a lot of mistakes as a mother. But one thing I am intensely proud of is that I have no expectations of my children except that they follow their heart. I can say that with ease because they were raised to put God first. That does not mean that what I feel should be first for them is what IS first. That would be selfish. That would mean I think they should be a clone of me. God knows there doesn't need to be another of me. It means they were raised to value a relationship with God that is uniquely personal to them. It is between them and their Creator. I gave them back to Him at their dedication service. I am not a mom to try to take them back and make them into what I think they should be. I have more trust and faith in them than that.

To see them with their growing families, raising children, traveling, seeing the world, giving back in various ways, living a Christian life and modeling that for others in ways I was never taught kind of rocks me back on my heels and I just give thanks that these incredible humans are our grown children. And these amazing little people they are raising so magnificently - they are our grands. And GRAND, they ARE!

Moving on to your work life - your day job, if you will. It is still your calling, and you are still in love with it. You can't see yourself anywhere else until the day you choose to leave to run the B&B full time. Little do you know that in just a few short months, something far beyond your control and your understanding will uproot you and you WILL make a change. It will not only shock those around you, but it will shock you as well.

When that time comes, others will want to know why. You'll wonder why as well. Why give up an 8 minute door-to-door commute for a 30 minute one to another district? Why leave a team you love for one that you don't even know? How in the world can you leave your students, kids who - for many of them - might as well be your own? How can you "abandon" them? Will they feel that way? How can you prevent that?

How can you explain that you accepted the interview after first turning it down because something deep inside of you - the part of you that you know better than to ignore - urged you to say yes; what did you have to lose just by going in to chat? How do you explain that when you walked across the threshold there was that feeling, the one that only comes along a handful of times in your life. Those God-moments, when the conversation is effortless, when no one is trying to impress, when the principal is not trying to woo you, and you are not trying to impress him. It will be a simple, honest conversation, but one that will change everything.

For months and months I had no good answer when folks would ask why I had changed districts. It wasn't the past admin. Not at all. It certainly wasn't my coworkers. In fact, I worried that I might be losing some people that I had come to care for very, very much. In time, what I would come to realize is that my Amy, my Neesa, my Donna, and my Kathy, and all the many more would continue to be a part of my life. I had not left them.

I had simply been moved.

For a while, I was shallow enough to think I had been moved because my teaching talents were needed in this new place. I fell instantly in love with my new environment, with my students, my admin, my team. As always, I had a blast preparing for the new school year, drawing up lesson plans, decorating my room, meeting everyone and putting names to faces.

And then - during the second nine weeks I hit a wall and I had a total epiphany.

I wasn't there for anyone else.

I was there because there were people there FOR ME. I would go through something deeply personal, deeply profound, something that rocked me like I had never been rocked before. It would have nothing to do with my marriage, with my teaching career, or with our kids or business.  But it put me in a place of vulnerability that I had never felt. Things from my past pelted me right and left. "Lost" moments that I had evidently blocked out suddenly became vivid memories.  I was used to being able to "cover my emotions," or hide my feelings, wearing a mask to cover any imperfections. This time I would not be able to do that.

I cracked and my new team drew me in. They quite literally encircled me, prayed for me, and allowed me to ugly cry in front of them. Betsy, Telly, and Haylie are my angels. They are three of the most encouraging, godly, FUNNY women I have ever known and I cannot imagine having the breakdown I did at work with anyone but them.

With their encouragement, and after hearing my story, I felt empowered to reach out to three more women. Women who should have been on my go-to list decades ago. This whole lesson has taught me that I am not invincible; I cannot do all things on my own. I don't have to appear perfect, In fact, there's a HUGE degree of relief in admitting, "Hey, I do not have my shizzle together. This happened to me and - quite frankly - it messed me up." Never having had a sister myself, I turned to the next best thing, my sisters-in-law - Kay, Malinda, and Robyn. Once again, that sisterhood of of rallying - almost like circling the wagons to protect the settlers...

By the way, it's now almost the end of the calendar year, and your husband is immensely grateful that you've finally turned to female confidantes. The business, by the way, has more than doubled during the course of the year. You're not quite going to make your end of the year deadline, but you're going to be very close. Already you have four weddings on the 2018 B&B calendar, and the cabins have about an 85% consistent booking rate. Sharing this passion for this hospitality business has brought you even closer as a couple.

You wouldn't have thought so a month ago, but you're leaving 2017 healthier than you entered it. Spiritually, emotionally, with your marriage, your family, your job, and your business...

Girl, you are going to go into this 50th year of your life dancing because you know what is important in this life...


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