The Journey

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

It was a dark and stormy night when my journey started.

It seriously was an ice storm in central Wisconsin on February 18, 2009, at 2 a.m. I know this for a fact as it was the day my first grandson came home from the hospital. I was unable to sleep so I started reading an Oprah Magazine (I’m not a fan) and there was an article with Maria Shriver interviewing the poet Mary Oliver. To be clear I’m also not a fan of poetry so it shook me to my core when I read this poem, ironically entitled The Journey–which I did not realize until this year.

This poem spoke to me so deeply that I knew my life was about to change, but I had no idea to what extent. I tore it out and took it to work and kept it in a manila file folder. I don’t remember what I named the file but I know it’s content ended up being my divorce file. But that took another two years to realize. There were two more significant events before I actually took the first steps to save my life.

The next event was the birth of my granddaughter, Adele. It was a hot and steamy night in Chicago two months before her due date and she was already in a long surgery to save her life that night. I was again shaken to my core. I had not even come to terms with my own impending death, let alone my children’s or their children’s. Again, it was clear that I was not living an authentic life and changes needed to be made but I was in another crisis for a brother and there was no room for my life, I was fighting and praying for theirs.

Once life returned to “normal”  I knew the time as close. Deciding to take my mother and daughter on discover our roots trip I was using the time to reflect on my internal strife when my daughter looked at me with no knowledge of my thoughts and asked me what I was going to do about my marriage, and walked away.

It was time to save my life. I could never have anticipated all the highs and lows of the next eight years. Buying and selling my dream house to live “Homefree.” Winning an award for my work at the White House and a year later in the worst job of my career. My father dying and my grandaughter thriving. Traveling and moving to Colorado. Moving from my role of daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother to role model of someone living their life fully and from a place of joy and abundance. 

I undertook a hero’s journey to save my life and I don’t regret one step of the way. I had no way of knowing that my journey would take 10 years. And now, I feel inspired to inspire others. To be honest and authentic about my journey to save the life of another. 


2 thoughts on “The Journey

  1. Oh my dear Elizabeth….you need to write a book!!! Your words are deep, eloquent, visionary, touching, relatable and beautiful!!! I’m so drawn to your blogs. They always tug at my heart strings. Keep writing, girlfriend!!! Love you! Cindy

    Liked by 1 person

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