Family. Reunited.

Happy Sunday, all!

As mentioned in 2017 Part 2 - More Family and Charity, life began to fill up with more family and some amazing charitable experiences. More change came in all areas of life, something that is so beautiful when we let it be.

As 2018 came around, so did a new role at work. I took a product management job, my fourth role with the company in 2.5 years. It was a new role and one that would force me to learn a whole new set of skills and gain a new understanding of technology. Just what I wanted - a new challenge!

As I became more involved in the new relationship, I booked a few trips - one to Texas, one to Idaho, and one to Massachusetts. All of them were fun and all of them were learning experiences. Learning about a new family, about interacting in a serious relationship, and more about the importance of being with family - all things that were necessary and beneficial to a lifelong story.

With the new job and relationship, I stayed in the cities more and worked at our corporate office several days per week. I started to experience the city life, something I never planned on doing, and something I never found interesting. It wasn't as crazy as I thought it would be. Life was becoming even more full.

As summer came around, I became most excited about the opportunity to spend a week up north, just like we did when I was a kid. We had 50 family members commit to going the first year, a huge success in my mind. As was always mentioned, it got old only seeing everyone at funerals. It was time for some fun! The cabins were huge, beautiful, and as cozy as could be. We rented the entire resort - six cabins to be exact, as well as a couple RV lots. The drive up, unpacking, the lake, family, fresh air, time away from work - it was all perfect.

There were two defining moments of that trip. First, watching the kiddos play in the lake all day, run around like crazy in the dark, and seeing the pack they formed. That took me back to my days up north as a kid. That was the most anticipated and desired week of the year for me. It was beautiful to watch that for the next generation. The other moment was around the fire one night. It was chilly, the fire was warm, and there were three family members taking turns playing guitar and singing together. It was then that I realized that the self-discovery work that I continued to take on had stopped me from holding grudges and allowed me to fight for the reunion of family, regardless of whether or not wrongdoing took place. I said in all those moments that I just didn't care, I was going to fight the right fight. And seeing the family together, knowing I had the honor of contributing some, was one of the more gratifying moments of my life.

I hear people talk all the time about how family and friends don't put in the effort to build and maintain relationships. To that, I've always said it's up to me to change that pattern. I've found a way to live my life pushing for and initiating connection with many, many people. That's tiring sometimes, but boy does it make life full. Meaningful relationships start with meaningful effort, independent of what the others do or don't do. I know today if I stopped fighting that fight, I might lose contact with dozens and dozens and dozens of close humans in my life, and I'm not willing to take that chance. Today, I live that full life knowing when a life ends, whether mine or one of those close to me, I'll be at peace with that relationship. And maybe, just maybe, a 50 person family reunion and an ongoing tradition might happen along the way!

As I continue to write and live through these memories again, I'm reminded of the deep beauty and peace life has to offer. Coming out of the other side of addiction is just the beginning of what life has to offer. Keep on keeping on, people. There is so much life out there for the taking. Seriously. Grab hold and don't let go. Ever. And don't ever stop learning and growing. That's where the best of things happen. The best.

Blessings,

J

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