I just re-joined my Toastmaster club after a multi-year hiatus. Some of my best friendships grew out of this club and it’s great for tuning my communication skills. Anyway, I just gave the classic first speech, the Icebreaker, and realized that it makes a great post (once I discreetly filtered out a few specific details). Here we go into the history of Maggie……
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. — Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Today is a momentous anniversary for me and it’s fortuitous that I am doing my Icebreaker on this special day. I’ll tell you more about this anniversary later. I believe that life should be a journey of constant growth and exploration. Oftentimes I take lessons from people of how NOT to do things, so let me explain how I have applied these lessons in my life.
I was born and raised in North Carolina. I consider myself a Southerner although somehow I lost my drawl along my travels. My parents divorced when I was 6, and my mom went back to school. My dad, who is a great guy and I love dearly, has never been a father figure for me. He has been merely an interested observer of my life. Between my mom’s education pursuits and impulsiveness, I lived in 9 towns in 12 years. I graduated high school at the age of 16, went to University One for a year, then University Two on the other side of the country (which I consider my Study Aboard year because a Southern girl in the Pacific Northwest is a story in itself) I ended up in our fair city at the age of 19 and sank my roots. I finally finished my communications degree at University Three.
I met my husband when I was 19 years old. We married when I was 23 and our marriage lasted 25 years. We had two wonderful children and many happy times. Today’s anniversary is the second anniversary of my divorce becoming final. Before you assume that this is a sad day for me, please don’t. I celebrate this day because it represents an important transition in my life. You see I consider my marriage a success, but a chapter in my life that had a beginning, a middle and an end.
I just read a quote the other day that personifies my parenting style: There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings. I was able to take the lessons learned from my parents about what NOT to do and apply them my marriage and raising my children. These lessons were: Create roots for my children and be actively present in their lives for all their pursuits.
Raising my kids was an incredibly busy, rewarding time of my life. Their father and I kept them close to their aunts, uncles and cousins. They grew up in a very stable, two-parent household and I am thankful they had the childhood I didn’t have. My children are perhaps my greatest success.
My mother-in-law passed away in January 2013. Her death caused me to reflect and once again I took away several valuable lessons of how NOT to do things. I loved her dearly. She was a wonderful, smart woman, but she also sacrificed for everyone and never put her needs first.
As I approached 50, I suddenly realized that my life is halfway over if I’m lucky or more than halfway over otherwise. It was time to get serious about living the life that I want to live. This led me to divorcing my husband because it was time for me to live my life on my own terms. My children were out of the nest. I won’t air the dirty laundry of our marriage, but suffice it to say that from the outside our marriage looked perfect, but inside it was not.
I have been stretching myself outside my comfort level. I went to Jamaica by myself, I tried online dating (huge waste of time). I joined a hiking club, thanks in part to our fellow Toastmaster, P. This hiking club has pushed me outside my comfort zone with canoeing and hiking. Through this hiking club I met my boyfriend, The Hunter. Any man that would date me after seeing me with no makeup, sweating is the right man for me.
For my next push outside my comfort zone experience, I am bravely moving and leaving our fair city after 30 years for a new one an hour away. Yes, by summer I will be living in a beautiful house on the water with a fruit tree. It felt like home the moment I drove up.
This chapter of my life is amazing. I know that I am living my life on my terms. I was so incredibly flattered by the note my daughter wrote to me on her wedding day this past February. She described me as fearless. How flattering. Particularly since she’s seen me react to cockroaches.
There you have it, Dear Readers. Quintessential Maggie in a nutshell. By the way, I got an awesome evaluation and then retreated to a nearby bar with two girlfriends and drank the afternoon away with rounds of prosecco to celebrate my anniversary. What an outstanding day!