Autumn Mirror

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18 and 19 years old

I can remember when I was in middle school, I looked forward to being 18. I would drive an older used car with the windows down, wear my keys on my wrist on one of those stretchy phone cord type bands. I’d work a small-town job and listen to semi-trendy music. I’d find out exactly who I was as high school ended and I transitioned to college.

 
Then, at 18, 22 was going to the be the perfect age, and I knew exactly what it looked like, too.I’d be past all legal milestones and free to do whatever I wanted to do. I’d be shedding the wildflower spirit and becoming much more refined in my tastes and ideas. I’d be finishing college and setting into a career.
 
At 22, it was 30. 30 would be it. We’d have 2 kids by then, our dream home, solid careers and watching TV on the couch while we talked about what new home renovation we were going to conquer next. We’d have a solid emergency fund and be making Dave Ramsey proud of our amazing budgeting and management skills. This. Was. The golden era. 
 
At 18, I drove a Chevy S-10, with indeed no AC so the windows had to be down. I worked at Hibbett’s, and my music choices have never been quite on par with current culture. I had no idea who I really was and spent a lot of time trying to sort that all out. I have no idea how I carried my keys, but it wasn’t on the stretchy band thing. I was a wildflower. 
 
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At 22, I’d been married 3 years. C was deploying/deployed/returning from deployment, and my wildflower spirit hadn’t really gone anywhere. I was probably more organized in my early 20s than I’d ever been…and ever have been since. I’d drop out of college at 50 hours, be working in radio and get to a drastically dark point in my life where things came to a very sharp fork for me. Refined and settled were definitely not the best adjectives for my state. I was still a wildflower. 

 
At 30, and in my early 30s, we’ve been through more than I could have imagined at 22. Between the transitions, moves, children, losses of babies, and broken dreams… it just wasn’t what I could have seen coming. However, by 30, we’d turned our marriage and lives over to Christ and been placed in a much better place than even my HGTV-centered plans could have predicted. We do talk about our next projects while we cuddle on the couch… but we are definitely not Dave Ramsey’s star students. I held my breath, turned around and fell backwards as I returned to college, putting a huge strain on our budget. My 22 year old self would not be proud of my bookkeeping. I can see her shaking her head and saying, “Just… let me do it.” I am still a wildflower. 
 
Today I caught myself thinking about next year. It’s funny how much shorter my forward thinking has come. Just a couple of months now, instead of years at a time. I’m at another edge of things.
People are leaving my life, new ones are coming in, school is almost over, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do in developing a community for law enforcement and seeing legislation passed to their benefit, met some cool people, met some less than cool people, met some cool people I thought would be there forever and aren’t in my corner now, met a few that I thought I couldn’t level with who are a big part of me, made goals, dropped goals, etc.
As 2019 creeps near, I feel like I’m staring at a blank page. 
School is about to be over,  I’m starting a new job in a career field I’ve never dipped into and I’m scrambling again on the inside.  With so much of the old falling away, I feel like I’m in my autumn. Waiting on spring to see exactly what flowers. I feel myself needing so much less of the outside and ready to become much more introspective. I’ve never been spot on in my predictions but, looking back, I’ve never been radically off, either.  
So, here’s to letting go of the opinions of others because they’re rarely based on anything more than a broken mirror of self-judgment, having the confidence in myself to continue using this newfound roar to benefit those I care about most and paving new paths to becoming who God wants me to be.
She looks a little quieter on the inside, a lot more at peace, let’s people and things go as easily as she lets them in and ready to face the unknown with the confidence that only comes from being a strong child of God.
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