You know that slow smolder? When the last embers just barely eek out a visible glow between the ash? The moment between warmth and chill, roar and still. This is the moment of choice; one more log to burn through or rake over and leave the night to fade back to black.
The last few months, I’ve been asking myself: am I the ember, or am I a renewed flame?
After our most recent PCS to San Antonio, I spent much of summer regrouping in our new place: building coffee roaster wish lists and adventuring goals, swimming and exploring, naturing and driving, mission-bound with my two boys, to find all our new city’s hidden nooks. This time though, I started foraging for my inner and professional self, too.
With each move comes unceasing, albeit exciting, variables, challenges and supersets. But I’ve also found these transitions are flooded with new joys amongst all the frenetic bits.
The shaved ice truck minutes away (next to the bookstore!).
Finding a fantastic library five minutes from our newest new house.
Local shops and food truck parks.
Meeting families and neighbors who share diverse backstories that make them whole.
Historically, despite all the new-new, I have the hardest time figuring out where I best fit into each new location.
Feeling like a raw edge puzzle piece, ever shape-shifting, with each new move remixing different curves and angles. I am constantly reimagined and evolving from other older well-worn moments.
As all my boys seamlessly settled into their newest new school and our newest new squadron this autumn, I was left to my own existential devices. I’d run along the neighborhood streets asking myself, what do I look like now? What space do I fill? For the first time in eleven years, I could take a pause and try to pencil in those blanks.
In September, I was asked to coach my oldest son’s school soccer team.
Let me tell you, it was my most favorite professional choice I’ve made. Ever. My 17-year old self, who wanted more than a scholarship to Harvard (no really!) to be a professional soccer player, sighed and was like, finally. Having played for 18 years, I recalled my own games and practices, leaning into a love of a sport so beloved that it was both a return to youth and home. This time, my incredible kiddo-pal and his team were the most integral part of my soccer-joy goals.
Each Saturday, I saw the early morning sun burst first across the shoulders of my son in his newest new school soccer jersey. His warmth was palpable, and I paused to hold long onto these moments. Both of us were growing and learning from the team and each other.
These were moments I think I needed so much to understand that all the pieces of me, though a bit buried, shouldn’t be forgotten but reshared, reshaped, and rejoiced in.
Listen, those Saturdays during the season were amazing.
The wet grass stuck to my Chucks and ankles like tiny talismans, and our team conquered the ball over and over. The sun cut through the trees and I thought, THIS is how young leaders are born. This is how they learn to stand tall through the fields, grow new roots, and flourish through the new newness. This is where I find my branches and my new growth, too.
My team was strong and brilliant and grew together in such a short time. I’ve not been more proud or excited about anything in ages. I was proud of my team for being incredible humans and athletes; proud of my son for being himself and resiliently amazing; proud of myself for recognizing how a role could make me so personally and professionally happy. This soccer joy has lived ever-long in my heart. It just needed a bit of kindling to stoke it.
I always thought I’d be a soccer player and then a writer, but aren’t those just micro-extensions of love? Of life? And the more extensions you have, the fuller your life becomes. It’s just a matter of giving into the build, giving into the idea that your foundation has always been there, tucked underneath the piles of diapers and moving boxes and amongst the joy and false starts. It has been waiting too, for you/me/us/all of it, to be remembered.