Today would have been my grandmother's 113th birthday. Just saying that makes it so surreal. To me, Carol Potter will always be a woman in her 80's, full of life, kindness and love, with a twinkle in her eye that belied that "grandmotherly" appearance. While I cannot express my gratitude enough for having her in my life, I do wish that I could have known her when she was a young woman. After an early life as a sickly child, she grew up on a farm in Michigan, doing chores and taking the horse and buggy to school by herself. She went on to college to become a teacher, and, at age 22, moved across the country by herself to Portland, Oregon, to be a kindergarten teacher. What it took for a young single woman to move by herself cross-country in 1923 is mind-boggling to me. She went on to have many adventures, including hiking up Mt. Hood and traveling to Alaska, before moving back to Michigan, marrying her college sweetheart and "settling down." She remains very much a strong light in my life.
Her life and adventurous choices reminds me of her great-grandchild, my eldest son. He's the one who moved cross-country at age 16 to attend a ski academy, who followed her footsteps and went to college in Oregon, kept going west and now lives in China. Again, mind-boggling. But what makes it even more amazing to me is that I know him: He's the one who had many fears as a child, and pushed boundaries, just to see where they were. He needed to know where he stood in order to feel secure, and evidently, once secure, was able to go beyond expectations. He remains my teacher to this day.
I know that my growing up in a secure environment has helped me feel confident enough to take risks in my life. But I am well beyond the days where I look to my parents for that security. For me, having a Higher Power that "has my back" makes all the difference. It allows me to move into places and situations, not without fear, but confident that even if I fall, it's all good. I can't imagine my life without that.
I am sure that my grandmother and my son had very different "security nets" than me, and probably very different ones from each other. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you find what props you up, what gives you that boost of encouragement, and what you know will be there if you should stumble and fall. Who or what is it that has your back? Find yours, and start blazing some new trails!