Meeting My Potential

My dad and me rafting the Nantahala, my high school spring break, freshman year, 1992.

So, I don’t talk cancer. I don’t think cancer. I don’t even say the word. I don’t do races, charities, talks, or posts.

And, I don’t know why now I’m writing about my losses to cancer. I have no idea why I’m writing. As I write, I dread what’s going to come next.

In a quarterly magazine I manage and edit, there was this beautifully written memoriam to a very kind and helpful man – a lawyer – who passed away with cancer. We typically don’t publish pieces like this. But, we are in this fall issue. I read and reread it in my various editing stages. This man accomplished so much in his life. He really lived to his full potential.

I am 42. Almost nine years ago, my dad passed away after a decade battle with cancer. It was the worst year of my life.

Lately, I have been challeneged to live to my full potential. I have a different daily life, and a different workload, which is a good different. Things are changing and growing, and my work life is exciting. And I keep meeting this theme in all areas of my life: meet your potential. Don’t just meet it…surpass it!

My dad passed away too young. He could’ve done more. Now I’m in the middle of my life, and I’m so grateful for what I have – a loving husband and son and opportunity. When he was around my age, my dad was essentially starting over.

What is living to our potential? Do we ever really live to our full potential? I mean, I used to think that once I was published, that would be it. I first published nearly a decade ago. I had feedback from people that what I wrote meant something to them. I still write and publish. So, is meeting my potential in all areas of life – art, music, writing at a professional level truly and fully realizing my potential? Is it to solely make a living off my writing? I’m still working toward that goal, but I think it’s more than that.

What is it?

We are taking a much needed vacation in 8 days. Much needed for my husband who hasn’t had a true vacation in 5 years. We are taking off and boating our way along the intercoastal to Pensacola. We’ve never spent much time there. Recently, our plans changed so that we are departing on September 28th. The anniversary of my father’s death. As I said, the worst year of my life.

Not only did I lose my father, but I also lost my future mother-in-law, and my aunt on either side of his death and within in one year. All to cancer. Bam, bam, bam. Gone, gone, gone. I never thought I’d stop crying.

The best thing about that year, however, was that my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, was with me through it all. And I was with him through his mother’s passing. God purposed that! He brings good out of bad. And there was a lot of bad.

I never go to my father’s grave. It’s in my hometown – Tallahassee – and I can never muster up the gumption to go, sit, and sob. It’s because I know I’ll sit and sob. I tend to remember my father during fun times – I know he’d love “being here right now,” kayaking, boating, surfing, paddling, fishing, cheering at an FSU football game…all the things I most love to do – he’d be right there with me. And I believe he is.

My father was charismatic and he made everyone feel they were his best friend. Because everyone was. He was handsome and fun-loving and people wanted to be around him. He made you feel like you were the most special person in the room. But, he made some heafty mistakes. Mistakes that busted up our home when I was only 15. My world got rocked. Divorce. A move to a new town. Chaos. I was a wreck. I didn’t look it on the outside – I kept it together and was involved in all kinds of extra curricular activities at school and church. But I was a mess.

However, one good thing about my dad was that through it all he loved me and my brother very well and was there for us in ways many fathers aren’t. The greatest legacy he left me was that he lived a life as a good and loyal friend to others. He showed me how to love all people and love them well. And I’m proud I have a lot of his adventerous spirit in me, and in his absence, I hang onto that.

I don’t want to not live up to my full potential. (Forgive the double-negative.) I want my son to be 42 someday and know that his mom did it! She chased her dreams and made them a reality for the betterment of herself, her family, and others in the world.

So, in 8 days, while on our boating adventure, on the 9 year anniversary of my father’s death, I’ll be on the water, living my life and remembering him. And today, as I did yesterday, as I’ll do tomorrow, I will keep plugging away, coming up with ideas, sifting out the good ones from the bad, setting goals, meeting deadlines, and making our lives better by living to my full potential – and hopefully beyond it.

Maybe the most important thing is the journey – not that you meet or exceed your full potential, but how you meet your full potential.

What are your goals? What are you doing to meet them? What people and memories affect your decisions and how?

Blessings,

J.

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