A whole year has passed since my beautiful survivor-sister Nancy Barbour and I were featured on the cover of Virginia Woman, and I couldn’t be more proud to say that I’m still here, smiling, healthy, happy, and thriving!
The past year has been one of learning. I’ve maintained a healthy body by exercising and following a (mostly) healthy diet. I’m learning- with some gentle nudging/ reminders from my friends- that rest and sleep are extremely important factors in health maintenance and physical safety. There is no shame in a nap or going to bed early. There is no shame in having a glass of wine with dinner. There is no shame in blowing off some house chores to go have fun! Life is about finding the happy medium.
Twelve years ago, when my late husband passed away just weeks just before our son was born, I recall sitting on the floor, in tears, thinking “I don’t know what to do, I seriously feel like I’m going to go nuts.” That week, I received one of many sympathy cards, but one in particular one stood out. The pre-inscribed message in the card said “Just remember, the mightiest Oak Tree was once just a nut that held its ground.” This quote resonated within me, and it still comes to mind when I need to feel strength. I’m drawn to pictures of Oak Trees as they remind me that I once felt like I was going to go nuts, but now I am so much stronger. Each and every day my strength grows and I will always aspire to be that mighty Oak.
This year, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel, and I’ve learned something: Life is truly a journey. Not just the type of journey where you plug point A and point B into your GPS and drive, but the type of journey filled with twists/turns, bumps, roadblocks, and occasionally getting completely lost! On each journey, I’ve learned that it is imperative to stay calm, be acutely aware of my surroundings, weigh my options, and make appropriate decisions based on that information. Such is the same with real life. The ultimate goal is to arrive safely at a destination that reflects the real you.
I have developed a passion for mission trips, having recently traveled to the Dominican Republic on a medical mission trip. Next up is India and Nepal in late October for another medial mission trip, and my heart races with excitement each time I think about the upcoming journey. While in the D.R., I had the opportunity to serve over a thousand children and adults needing basic medical care. Many of these people had nothing- no roof over their head, no access to food, potable water, medical care, or even basic safety- but they all had a smile. They took nothing for granted.
As you travel on you own life journey, I encourage you to embrace the twists, turns, bumps, and roadblocks. Learn all you can from every person you encounter. You might meet some nuts along the way, but you might also take a detour down a sunlit path lined with glorious mighty Oak Trees. When you take that detour, take a seat under that big Oak and bask in the glory of who you have become.
By Kelly Duckworth