This morning I watched my big brother walk across a stage and graduate from college. He just has one test left to pass and he will officially be a nurse.
And although it was hectic getting to the graduation on time for me (I thought it was at 11am, but it was at 10:30- I discovered that at 10:12 while still in my jammies) I am so glad I didn’t miss this important day in his life.
Jason has been working on graduating from college for a long time. He has taken breaks to be deployed in the US Army in places like Iraq and Kosovo, he spent time in Germany, and has been sent to places here in the states when disasters strike. He has worked at going to school through the birth of 3 children, the adoption of 1, and making sure his little sister didn’t jump off the deep end. :) With all the distractions and life changes going on around him, he studied and wrote and worked towards graduation.
And as I watched him walk across that stage, and heard him get the loudest applause of anyone else graduating, (which he completely deserved, by the way) I realized something important.
It is not that we hit our goals quickly. It is that we always keep the end goal in mind.
If Jason had stopped and looked at all the crazy stuff going on around him, graduating might have looked impossible. He has a learning disability, and while he knows EVERYTHING there is to know about medicine (and he does. Just ask him, and you will get more gory details than you bargained for!!!) he has a hard time translating the things he knows into writing. And when you are a college student, trouble with writing makes things doubly difficult. Throw on top of that a healthy case of A.D.H.D., and you can imagine how tough learning could be for him. But anyone who has ever met Jason knows how smart he is, and how he cares about people. I have never met anyone who loves getting to know other folks as much as Jason does. He has this knack for being- what some might consider- the loveable underdog. And you can’t help but root for him to succeed. Maybe this process of graduating took him longer than it would others who didn’t have a career that takes you far from home 16 months at a time, or someone without 4 kids may have done it faster, and you could say that someone without any difficulty in learning might have breezed right through this program.
But walking across that stage today, he wore the same cap and gown (or “dress” as his son Trace put it) as everyone else. The end result was exactly the same. AND, even though we (my two brothers and I) still tease and give each other crap like we are kids, I know that there was not a prouder sister sitting in that auditorium full of people today. Jason not only reached his goal, but he has more life experience than anyone who received their diploma today.
I know that I get frustrated about my own goal. There is this part of me that wants to be thin now. I want to have lost 100 pounds today. But I think I need to take a lesson from my big brother on this one. Life is going to interrupt the best of plans. There are going to be celebrations with cake, and picnics with potato salad. There are going to be moments on the journey that I don’t want to miss. As I continue on this process of losing weight that seems to be taking forever, I look back over the last few months and see the things that I have accomplished. There is nothing I would change. And although I wasn’t losing weight, or getting closer to my goal at that moment, I was LIVING. I need to stop apologizing that this is taking longer than I anticipated, and learn to enjoy the ride a little bit more. I need to be more like Jason.
I can count calories and walk myself across this town and back until I can’t see straight. Or I can try to be better about incorporating healthy decisions in the moment. I can take walks with our daughters and talk. Sure, I may not get 3 miles in. But our daughters will remember those times that we were able to connect. I can play baseball with our son, and end up not getting a workout at all. But when he is older, he will know that Mom made time for him with the things that were important to him.
I have always had this mindset about dieting- you deny yourself and work hard. But today, I am here to tell you that I was wrong. It is not about that at all.
It’s about learning to weave it all together- life, food, exercise- and keep working at it till you hit your goal. Never forgetting the end game, but learning to play somewhere in the middle.
Jason, I am so very proud of you. You worked at your goal, and you got there. I didn't realize till today how much I look up to you. And how amazing you looked in that navy blue dress.
I love you, Bro- and you DID IT!