A Crossroads



One year ago from this past Saturday was the last time I saw The Original Big Man alive and well. He was in town to tape Thing 1 playing her fiddle at the Frozen River Film Festival. 

This year, Big Man took Thing 1 by himself.

Our lives have changed drastically since that sunny January day. The decision to work elsewhere has not panned out as we had hoped, and so we are being forced to re-evaluate what makes a place your home.

We have been in this community, one I think of as mine, for 11 years. It was Big Man's job that brought us here  and while he worked, I fought hard to find my place. With an eighteen month old bouncing on my hip, we strolled the Winona Farmer's Market on a sticky August day in that first summer we lived in Winona. We crossed paths with a co-worker's spouse and she stopped to say hello. I verbalized my uncertainty about how to meet people and tap into kid-friendly things since we had no family or friends in town. And for the first time ever, I would have no co-workers of my own as a newly minted full- time at-home mom. She looked a bit bit surprised and then smiled and said, "Oh, you'll find your way" and off she went to the next stall of tomatoes.

I found my way in Winona with little help.

I found ECFE.  I found the book store. I found some of Big Man's co-workers who really did care. I found other moms. I found ECFE teachers who pulled me through postpartum depression. I found writers and cooks and readers and a book group. I found the YMCA. I found friends. I found writing. I found the local paper wanted to use my writing. I found causes who wanted to use my voice. I found mentors who wanted to watch me grow.  I found out I wanted to grow.

But growing is not easy. It makes you re-consider everything you think you've known and forces you to ask difficult questions. It seems I will never be done growing.

All sorts of existential questions are floating through my brain....what is place? what is your place? are they related? what makes you belong? to what do you belong?  If you have never had to move, it would rock your world to understand what it forces you to confront about how you see yourself and the world in which you live.

Home has always been a word that I have struggled with. I liked growing up in rural northwest Iowa, but that was my childhood home. And whether it wanted me or not and whether I wanted it to or not, Winona the place has eeked it's way into my heart and has become my home.

When you fight so much for something, it seems impossible to think of leaving it. 

I can honestly say I do not know what our future holds.

But I have no doubts about Big Man. He is a loving and hilarious dad, a sweet and doting spouse, an attentive and caring physician. And I know how this turmoil, some self-inflicted and some completely unexpected, is knitting us closer together.  It is causing us to re-evaluate what is place and what is home, what it means to be a good physician, what it means to be a writer, what it means to contribute to our world, what it means to be a family and what we want for our family as it grows older, we are thinking about what is enough, we are examining what we want to give to the world,  and we are thinking about what we value most and if we are acting accordingly.  These are all tough things, but they are good things.

At least that is what I am telling myself.

Stay tuned.















12 comments:

  1. Anyone out there have experience with tough choices? Especially those which will involve kids? I could use some advice.

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    1. My parents moved me 9 miles when I was 16 years old to the town that was "my town's" arch rival. I hated my parents and I hated the move for two weeks. Then pre-season football started and I met my new teammates. . .really great guys. Then school started. I walked into the building and down the first floor hallway to my new locker. While standing there, I noticed the girl whose locker was directly across the hall from mine. Almost 4 years later I married her. That was nearly 41 years ago. My parents both passed in 2013. You've just reminded me that I never did thank them for moving me! Someone commented that kids are resilient and can adapt to change. I've watched it for 35 years in my teaching career, and I lived it in my own youth. My family's 9-mile move not only found me my life-mate, it more than doubled my number of friendships.

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  2. And by advice, I don't mean looking for jobs....just how you help kids through any potential changes. We don't have anything happening as of yet....just lots of unknowns.

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    1. I've got lots of experience- both as a kid and as an adult- making the best of things and making choices when all the options are full of unknowns. Let me know if you need coffee and a pal.

      -Kate N.

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  3. Is a comment posted automatically or is it read before making the blog?

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  4. Wow. So sorry to hear that the change is not working out for Bob--I know so many patients who miss him, but was hoping that this move would be the right thing for him. No advice from me. I've moved a ton as an adult and have always made great friends and landed on my feet. I have a theory that as an introvert, that kind of thing is easy for me. I have extroverted friends for whom the prospect of moving and not knowing anyone is quite overwhelming. I don't know if kids' I vs E temperament might be a factor in their adjusting, but it might. You are starting on a journey with an open mind and heart and your kids are loved and you will all be together through this, so that's a pretty great foundation :)

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    1. Kathy, Bob and I have been talking a lot about this....how we roll in moving- introvert vs. extrovert. He has such faith in me, in us. He tells me I am so good at making friends, but really it's out of survival of who I am. I appreciate your insights and it has given me another lens through which to examine this. Thanks.

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  5. Happy. Happy? Happy! I know women friends who have husbands who are not happy at work. I have come to believe that "happy wife, happy life" applies to husbands too but no one can rhyme it well. I have such faith in your innate ability to put yourself out there and connect. You're scrappy! What a great learning experience for your kids to watch adults grapple with the big questions in life and go after something, even when you don't know exactly what it is. Grit, resilience, and character are built with these experiences. Let's have coffee!

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    1. And I agree with Katy. 1) you're scrappy, and 2) your kids watching you grapple with big questions will actually be a good thing... even if it's daunting.

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  6. Kids are a lot more resilient than we give them credit for. Advice: up everything that is usually recommended for stress. More sleep. More exercise. Prayer, if that's your thing (TIME mag has a cover on the power of "mindfulness" right now -- proven stress reducer). Most of all, talking. Talk, talk, talk, talk. Let them have a peek at your struggles (maybe not the whole extent of it!) both to prompt conversation and to model coping. Thinking of you guys very often.

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  7. Wow. I haven't read any of the other comments, but as usual, Lisa, this is beautiful and brave. I love the way you so genuinely share your journey with our community and now the larger community as your work starts to travel around the world through the internet. You and your family are amazing. We know it is not easy and they we all have our struggles during our individual journeys, and I appreciate your courage and honesty and just genuine you-ness.

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