I've been absent from this place for the past four months, having been enrolled full-time in a special kind of "boot camp" for the soul, specifically the grandmother's soul. It has commanded my full attention, so much so that the very idea of writing a blog post has seemed impossible. For one whose primary currency in life is my facility with language, my experience during these past few months in Grandmother Boot Camp has left me unable to articulate much of anything with any degree of coherence. I've been thunderstruck with awe!
While boot camp is still in session, today however it seems I've been let out on "recess," but with a homework assignment: return to the Well and reconnect with the part of my life I've put on hold. With that in mind, allow me to update you on the curriculcum my soul just ordered up.
For starters, it was the best of times; it was the scariest of times. It was a long-held dream come true, fulfilled under the most unexpected and stressful of circumstances. It was a gift from God that came crashing in, wrapped in the mystery of promise, possibility and potential disaster.
As I write this, it is June 22, 2013, the original due date of my first grandchild, Mira Grace. However, little Mira had another plan in store for her new family. She arrived instead on March 4, at 24 weeks and three days gestational age, fully 16 weeks early. Mira weighed in at a hefty 1 pound, 8 ounces, 720 grams to be exact. And Grandmother Boot Camp was in session!
Mira's parents, my daughter and her husband, enrolled in Parent Boot Camp prior to her early arrival, in an attempt to delay her birth. But that is their story to tell and all in due time. Just writing this takes my breath away, as it did back in March, and it has continued to do so for the nearly four months since she arrived. It's hard to communicate when one is holding one's breath. I keep reminding myself to exhale.
After 94 days in the NICU, on June 6, Mira finally got to come home. With a lot of adjustments on everyone's parts including Mira's, it seems to be going well. She is growing and thriving and now tips the scales at over 7 pounds. Her mom and dad are learning how to survive on very little sleep and Mira is learning how be part of a family. Give them all another 18 years or so, and we'll see how it all turned out.
Coming a bit late to the grand parenting chapter of my life, I'd always heard from others who got there long before I did how wonderful it is and how much it would change my life. I had no idea just how prophetic this would be! As I tend to do with most things in life, I've taken on the mission of becoming a grandparent like a brand new cheerleader at her first football game. Having been a cheerleader in high school, I come well equipped for this part of the job. Seems like I've been waiting my whole life for this.
Mira's arrival has brought me to a whole new threshold. Nothing is the same for me anymore. I no longer have much space left for the things that used to consume me. A former news "junkie," I find news and politics uninteresting these days. I've turned down myriads of invitations for social events, hang time with friends and even work opportunities. My writing has taken a back seat these past four months, as I have been rendered speechless in the face of this little miracle known as Mira Grace. I've surrendered to the much more compelling activity of hanging out with her, knitting blankets and baby caps, tackling burping duties, changing diapers and otherwise lending a hand to the new parents as they find their way in the landscape of parenthood. Clearly, my priorities have been re-organized.
Not that I needed a reason to keep on keeping on, but I have a whole new reason for doing so now. As I grow old, and yet older, I see clearly the need to remain vibrant and healthy, physically, mentally and spiritually, so I'll be around to watch Mira Grace walk across the stage to get her high school diploma and hopefully enter college 18 years from now. I plan to go to her games (she comes from a lineage of athletes) and be her biggest cheerleader in whatever path she chooses.
From the moment she arrived, I've been aware that something more is being asked of me. For Mira Grace and myself, I'm being asked to dig deeper and find within myself the undiscovered potential that's been there all along, just waiting to be claimed. I'm being asked to love more deeply and receive more abundantly. I'm being asked to let go of whatever prevents me from being more authentically who I am so that in these later years of my life, I can be all that Mira Grace needs me to be.
As I become aware of how much more I'm being called upon to be, I also see there is much more available to me than I ever knew was possible. I know this is true for me, but I believe it's true for all of us. And this is where our stories intersect. For all our stories have within them, the agony of missing out on our grandest possibilities and the ecstasy of meeting them full on. It's up to us to claim them and choose which way we want our lives to unfold.
Futurist Jason Silva talks about the "adjacent possible." He says, "The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself." This field is always there. It's closer to us than our very breath. We are swimming in it. It is alive with creativity and abundance. It is the stuff of wonder and awe and our future will be born from it.
These adjacent possibilities are like a banquet table, set with beautiful china, silver, flowers and candles. Whatever we want is there for the taking. We've only to ask and we shall receive. But we must first deem ourselves worthy of both asking and receiving.
At less than four months of age, Mira Grace has already ushered me into my own "adjacent possible." She has taught me that like her name, miracles are not rare events but every day occurrences. We only need open our eyes to see them. She's taught me that like her name, Grace awaits those who open to receive it. My adjacent possible is teeming with new pathways to the future. And so is yours.
There is much more to Mira Grace's story, but it is not mine to tell. Some day, she'll pull back the curtain and tell her side of things and once again, I'll be in awe. Jason Silva reminds us that we have a "responsibility to awe." If you want to have your awe gene stimulated, take a look at this video by him. You'll be glad you did!
I spend a lot of time in awe these days, here in Grandma Boot Camp. Looking into the eyes of our little Mira Grace, I see the future. And it looks pretty amazing.
The soul has a way of fulfilling its agenda on its own time frame, very often not our own. Each of us has been confronted by events that seemed "premature" or came "too late." What have you learned about how to "be with" the thing that takes your breath away by the very nature of its intensity or its timing?
What commands your full attention these days? What takes your breath away and brings you to awe? I'd love to hear from you. Do share in the comment section below.
I expect my contributions here will be on a somewhat irregular basis as I attend Grandma Boot Camp sessions this summer and beyond. But stay tuned. Many lessons ahead and hopefully some worth sharing. As you read this, I'll be out of the country on a work assignment. But I will endeavor to respond to your comments as time and time zones allow.
Blessings on the path.
For more by Dr. Judith Rich, click here.
For more on GPS for the Soul, click here.