It’s strange to think that it’s been two years today since Nick died. It’s also amazing how a few months spent learning from someone can be the catalyst to completely change your course. Two years ago I worked at a job that I hated. It made me crazy, broke my spirit, and sucked my soul. I was in a master’s degree program that I thought I should be doing. Because who says no to free tuition? Because climbing the ‘career’ ladder meant more education. These days I wouldn’t touch that ladder with a ten-foot pole. If Nick hadn’t been a professor to really encourage creative license in his classroom, I’m really not sure I would’ve eventually found the courage to be creative with my work in my life.
After losing his wife to an aggressive ovarian cancer several years prior, Nick had fully embraced the motto “Life is short.” The view that if you aren’t doing what makes you happy, in your school, in your projects, in your work, in your LIFE, then why are you doing it? I listened to this clip again today, and hearing his voice it’s as clear as it was yesterday. His humor and warmth in the face of something as terrible as losing a spouse was a gift. And it was that which made him such a wonderful teacher.
His story continues to reinforce to me that you really never know what will happen. You don’t know what hand you will be dealt. And there is no reason to spend your life doing things that don’t serve you, or spend your time with people who don’t make you better.
Two years later, I can’t say that I have it all figured out. But I can say that if it wasn’t for those few months spent in Nick’s class, I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am now.
His abrupt death really allowed me to put everything into perspective and to reassess what I was doing and why I was doing it. It allowed me to leave the job I hated, leave the master’s program that wasn’t for me, and while I had a short pit stop in another awful job, it allowed me to see clearly that starting a family was what I really wanted. I didn’t want to keep banging my head against these awful jobs because it felt like I “should.” Or we felt like we needed to wait till we reached whatever financial milestone. We didn’t know how we would make it work, but we found a way.
Not to mention, I never would’ve met my dear friend Lori whose passion for women’s experiences in childbirth would become a catalyst for the career path that I am now on. Little did I know, sitting in that dusty classroom each Tuesday evening listening to her research about childbirth would plant a seed for my own passion. I am SO thankful for her and SO proud that she will be finishing up her master’s degree in communication next week!
Lately, I’ve been feeling pulled in a million different directions. Trying to be a good mother, trying to work on my childbirth educator certification, trying to plan for the holidays, trying to get into an exercise routine again, trying to be a good piano teacher, trying to launch a podcast, to blog, to write, to be a good wife, friend and daughter. TRYING. Trying to work on Clare’s baby book and first year photo album. Trying to keep socializing, getting out, doing new things, doing things for Clare. Trying to Balance. It. ALL. And sometimes I really feel like I’m failing at all of it. Like I’m one teething meltdown short of a massive breakdown.
But on the anniversary of Nick’s death, I’m promising myself to take a look at what the priorities in my life are and giving those the energy they deserve. Because as Nick taught us, life is WAY too freaking short to waste energy on the things that don’t matter. As we head into the November, I am motivated to be intentional with my time, my thoughts and my actions this holiday season. To say no when I need to. To vastly cut down on my use of social media, the mindless checking, the time wasting. To sometimes let the laundry pile up or the dust wait a day in favor of playing scrabble with Chris while Clare naps or taking her for a walk and enjoying the crisp fall air. To making time to be creative, with crafting or writing. To making progress on long term projects and goals…a little bit at a time.
To unplugging more…
To meditating more consistently…
To letting go of perfect to embrace being happy.
And I’m sure I will struggle with this Every. Single. Day.
But by trying I am honoring what Nick taught me.
Nick, your story is a constant reminder of how precious time is, and I am so thankful to have known you.
If you would like to check out the book Nick wrote with his wife as they dealt with her terminal cancer diagnosis. It’s called Cancer and Death, a Love Story in Two Voices and can be found here. It really is beautiful.
Also, here is a music video of a song he wrote for her and this is him singing it when he scattered her ashes in Fort Bragg.
And if you would like to read the post I wrote shortly after Nick’s death, you can find that here.
PS – I will be participating in Allison’s NoExNo – a riff off of of NaNoWriMo – but instead of writing a novel in a month, it’s committing to ‘no excuses’ on a goal,habit, lifestyle change, etc for a month. Join me?