This I Believe

June - Chandler, Arizona
Entered on May 15, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in our capacity to deal with changes in our lives with energy and grace instead of trepidation and fear. This revelation was a gift given to me by a friend.

Although I had not seen her in person in several months, I knew that my friend Laura was losing her battle to lymphoma and did not have long to live. When I called her one day just three weeks before she died, I made feeble attempts to comfort her. Instead, she comforted me and gave me words of wisdom that I carry with me every day.

Laura requested that I tell her about my current activities as it soothed her to hear about life outside of cancer. As our conversation sought to catch up on our family’s lives since our last meeting, I found myself talking the most. After a while, she said to me, “June, you embrace change more than anyone I know. That is something I have always admired about you.”

Her words stunned me. I had not thought of myself in exactly those terms. The concept of change was easy for me to understand. After all, at the conclusion of college, I had left the confines of my Connecticut roots and flown to Phoenix by alone and without a job or friend to begin a new life. I had looked upon it as an escape and a grand adventure. Later, as a teacher, I had spent my entire career bouncing from school district to school district, eventually teaching every grade level, in search of the place where I fit best.

However, the descriptor, embrace, left me in wonder. Embrace is a powerful word, connoting joyful exuberance. Did I really embrace change?

After some personal reflection, I decided to emblematically use Laura’s words, to make them my motto, rather than to try to understand them. Thereafter, whenever I found myself beginning to worry about taking a step in a new direction, I would reframe the situation into a “prospect”, a chance to challenge myself to grow and to learn.

That shift in attitude has shaped everything that has come since. After eight year, I found my career “home” teaching English in a lovely, Phoenix community, right where we lived. It had been there the entire time; however, I had not been ready for it. It was only when I had evolved as a teacher that the doors opened and the position came to me. As I embraced this change, I blossomed, unencumbered by the weight of the past but spreading the wings of previous lessons.

In the end, Laura’s words have inspired me and given me deeper, abiding courage to follow rather than force myself through the twists in life’s journey. They were Laura’s final gift to me, her legacy that lives on through me.