I have to admit, I was both devastated and relived. Devastated not to have the opportunity to truly communicate to my host family, co-teachers, and students that I loved them dearly and had been so touched by all they had given to my life by inviting me into their world. Devastated that I wouldn't be living the life I had planned (how many times do we realize this one?). Relieved that in the end the decision was out of my hands and I would be well within a year. I truly had forgotten what wellness felt like, and it took some real work to bring it back.
My parents were my greatest cheerleaders over the past year, from the supported walks around the block to the eventual neighborhood strolls, and the 5 mile treks we finally worked me up to, they were by my side every step of the way. The theatre family reached out with open arms to lift my spirit as I gained the courage to be seen again, and by summer the kids were warming my heart with song and story, as I stepped back into my role as teacher and coach. My spiritual family prayed over and helped me on the journey to recovery, knowing I was in the perfect hands and reminding me of how deep my roots can grow in fertile soil.
As my health became less of an issue, the classroom became my friend again, and I rejoined the ranks of Chino Valley Unified School District as a sub while looking for the right program to finish up my credential and follow my calling as an arts educator. I also landed some incredibly challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling roles as an actor, and my lengthy absence from the stage ended with some powerful and hilarious moments.
I am filled with such awe and pride as I think of those in my group who made their ways into their communities' hearts and will have such lasting impact on the lives of those beautiful Thai friends and families they got to know so well. The joy I feel for all I know they were able to give of themselves, and the pride I have in their great accomplishment of having made it the entire 27 months in the Kingdom of Thailand fills me tonight. I honor them.
Let this stand as a reminder that we are all blazing our own trails in life, and some paths may wind back upon themselves or end before the next has made itself clear, but we all find our ways eventually. I am so grateful to always have so many who love and inspire me along the journey, and I take this moment, today, to acknowledge how far I've truly come. It may not have been on my terms, but I did it with a full heart, and always from a place of love.
Let the next adventure begin!