I wrote my first post for this blog, A Gift to be Simple, May 22 of this year in order to begin capturing in writing a strange, new, mysterious, yet wonder filled journey for both my mom, my family and me.
After the death of my dad, Fred, in 2002 and younger sister, Nel on March 28, 2011, mom and I were the last two of the core Laughon family still standing. In addition, my two daughters and their families live in Wilmington, North Carolina.
A little over a year ago, hand in hand with my wife, Melissa, I moved back to Richmond from Tallahassee, Florida, where I had become the poster boy for “Life is Good” for 15 years. The primary reason for the move back was to be able to provide the kind of ever increasing care and attention my mom and sister were requiring.
Our marriage, our business, and our teaching at Florida State University all happened while living in Tallahassee.
Melissa and I were growing a great little management consulting firm, Catch Your Limit, and had lots of flexibility and freedom to create and live a good life/work balance, were adventurous travelers (business and pleasure), avid outdoor enthusiasts, and had a lifestyle and friendships that were of the highest order.
Oh, did I also mention our big, audacious goal was to become the world’s greatest couple!? And, nothing that we couldn’t manage, was stopping us from achieving it. It was within our reach and that was exhilarating.
Then came the Great Change! Even though Melissa and I prided ourselves on the work we’d done guiding organizations through major transformational change challenges as well as helping develop leadership skill sets on leading change, we had no idea what was about to hit us.
The Great Change short, overwhelming list:
- Putting our home on the market and discovering we would probably get only two-thirds of what it had been worth.
- It’s still on the market.
- Having to put an end to one of the most gratifying, rewarding experiences of our lives, teaching (and learning) at Florida State University for ten years. And for a Florida Gator to say he loved that school, is really saying something.
- Having a disastrous move compliments of United Van Lines. If you want your belongings converted into puzzle pieces, go United!
- Saying goodbye to a community where we had developed strong roots and a reputation for being entrepreneurial, trusted advisers, innovative thinkers and most of all leaders and doers.
- Telling our staff we were leaving them behind knowing we were the primary reason they were with our firm in the first place.
- None of them came with us and have sense moved on to places as near as Tampa and far away as Seattle.
- Having to build brand awareness and gain traction for our firm in Richmond in what continues to be a stuttering, fraught with uncertainty, economy.
- Melissa moving from the only two states she has ever lived in, Georgia and Florida where all of her family and friends are, to a city that is four to five times larger than any she had ever lived in and a long, long way, even as the crow flies, from home.
- The uncertainties of care giving and the realization that flexibility and freedom comes with a huge price tag not to mention the emotional cost.
Just reading this short list has me hyperventilating and looking for cover or my blankie!
Don’t panic (I am whispering this to you and me)!
This post is all about celebrating that we are:
- Loving Richmond and the region (Melissa even loves the snow)
- Way closer to my daughters and grand kids
- Establishing awareness and gaining traction for our consulting firm and discovering that there is a lot more opportunities for business in our new backyard then we had
- Learning how to be stronger, better prepared, caregivers
- Facing tumultuous change with everything we have in us
- Learning how to lead and deal with change better than ever
- Finding that there are plenty of teaching opportunities when the time is right
- Still committed to being the world’s greatest couple
- In the midst of it all, sticking with the blog
I am really, really proud of us. This journey is not for the faint of heart by any stretch of the imagination!
You have to have heart, courage, faith and the ability/flexibility to change on a dime. You have to have a powerful sense of self as well as a powerful sense of humor. You have to quickly learn from your missteps, failings and mistakes and move fast forward.
To say we have had our share of rough patches is an understatement. We bought an off road jeep as a symbol for just how rough a journey we are own.
I had no idea the scope of this journey or where it would take us, but it is leading Melissa and me to explore places and things we have never experienced before and to see old places and things in a whole new light. It is giving me a glimpse of what I am made of and that is not always a pretty sight. And, it is also giving me a glimpse of who I am hell bent and determined to be and that is a better me.
That part has me more excited and determined to move forward than anything.
The key is to keep going and growing. Giving up is not an option.
Even with the ups and downs, twist and turns age and dementia bring our way, mom and I continue to learn, love and respect each other. And that goes for Melissa, my daughters, the grandkids as well.
No matter how complicated the challenges, the purpose is simple. Try to give back what was given to you, because what goes ’round comes ’round.
I keep hearing my mom and sister singing in the back of my head. ” To turn, turn will be our delight, till by turning, turning we come ’round right.”
It is a gift, that if given unconditionally, forms a circle … the circle of life.
The lyrics to the song, A Gift to Be Simple, featured in my first post, are worth a mouse click to read and reread.
The more I revisit it, the more I believe this old Shaker hymn represents my family’s credo.
But, before you go there, click on this old video Melissa took on Thanksgiving day, 2008.
It features Mom, my sister, Nel and me singing A Gift to Be Simple. Guess which two know the lyrics by heart and which one needs a little help! That’s been the story of my life!
Singing is what we did as a family from as far back as I can remember. I find comfort in being able to close my eyes and hear my dad’s tenor, mom’s alto, Nel’s soprano and my baritone voices singing in perfect four part harmony. It is how we lived our lives together.
In Nel’s intro to the song, she mentions (many times) Tovi and Lissi. They are my daughters that I mentioned earlier. They grew up in Richmond and even though our home was a couple of miles from my parents and sister’s, the walls between them were nonexistent and the girls basically grew up in two homes that had no boundaries … particularly when it came to love.
Those were harmonious, joyful times.
My parents gave us all a gift to be simple rooted in core values that were all about the joy of giving, loving, learning, creativity and accountability.
And, what we as a family are learning as we look mortality in the face … as we see it, smell it, taste it, hear it and feel it is that it is life. It is part of the wondrous circle.
Keep the circle going ’round and ’round.
Keep us in your prayers.