Heather’s Blog: Sometimes the unexpected path leads where you’re supposed to beJuly 22, 2014
Summer 1992. I was 11 years old, and I had just completed grade four. I was spending my vacation time doing things typical of an 11 year old — riding my bike, going to the corner store for slurpee, and hanging out with my friends.
One evening we were all standing around outside my friend’s house, trying to drag out our last minutes together before our parents called us inside for the night, and we started talking about where we saw ourselves in the future. The picture I sketched for myself was that I would graduate from high school at 18; go to university for four years to study education, journalism, or broadcasting; and get married immediately upon completion of my degree at the age of 22.
As idyllic as this all sounds, the events that followed lead me down a very different path. Grade 12, graduation, and my eighteenth birthday came with me involved in a highly abusive relationship, broken, lost, and a shadow of that ambitious girl I had been just a few short years before. I had no idea who I was anymore, who I could be, and where I was headed next. What I did know was that I couldn’t live like this much longer, and I needed to make a change. So I broke off the relationship, put university on hold, and moved overseas to the United Kingdom on route to a different path, and a new direction. I took a risk, put myself out there, and followed my gut. I had no idea where this new adventure would take me, but it just felt like it was something I needed to do.
The answers didn’t come immediately; in fact, I’m not sure I recognized them when things did start to fall in place. All I can say for sure is that through being on my own, discovering my independence, and surrounding myself with people, places, and things that I was truly passionate about, brought clarity into my life. I lived my life in the moment, and somewhere along the way I found the way back to myself. Then, without looking for it, I fell in love. That instant, love at first sight, everlasting kind of love.
We dated for two years — some of that time over long distances — and then he came back to Canada with me, and we got married.
Sometimes in life, the unexpected path leads you exactly where you are supposed to be.
In the span of two years, my life had taken on a completely unintended — but at the same time wonderful — direction, and I moved forward with it. I got my first “grown up” job as an optometric assistant and opened my own Highland dance studio. My life did not reflect the image I had drawn for my friends that summer evening in 1992, but I can honestly say that I was genuinely happy, and I felt I was living my life with purpose and direction.
That only became truer when in July 2008 my husband and I had our first child — a beautiful little girl we named Brynn. And that’s when the stupid, damn cancer hit!
Brynn was four and half months old, and just like that, my path was completely uprooted and thrown off course. I did what I had to do to get through it, but when it was all over, I was again broken, lost and a shadow of who I had been before cancer. I tried so hard to “reintrajectorize” myself back into life the way it used to be, but life after cancer was proving much more difficult for me to navigate than life had been while going through treatments. Everything I had set up for myself, no longer seemed to fit. I moved offices, closed my dance school, and tried to comprehend where my path and purpose would lead next.
At the lowest point of my “why me” phase, it felt like the answer to that was nowhere. Again, what I did know was that I couldn’t live like this much longer, and I needed to make a change. So just as before, I took a risk, put myself out there, and followed my gut. That’s what lead me to YACC.
Everything didn’t fall into place overnight — in fact it’s still a work in progress — but through the outlet of support YACC has provided me, and through sharing my story, I am starting to find my way forward in my cancer journey, and rediscover my purpose and direction.
Sometimes in life the unexpected path leads you exactly where you are supposed to be.
My path has lead me here, with all of you.
I would love to finish this post by telling you I have all the answers. That I have written the directions and drawn up the map to lead you on the path to discovering your own purpose. I can’t tell you that, because it’s not going to be the same for everyone.
We all deal, and handle our misadventures in our own way, and in our own time. That is okay. What I hope I have given you is comfort. Know that you are not alone, and that this will take time. And when the time comes that you are ready to move forward to the next phase of your journey, consider one of these approaches to help you on your way:
- Listen to your childhood voice; its dreams, its passions. Chances are, that was your most authentic self before the rest of life got in the way.
- Take risks.
- Put yourself out there.
- Follow your gut.
- Surround yourself with people, places and things you are truly passionate about.
Live life on purpose.