life after the birds fly the coop

Archive for the month “May, 2016”

Finding your True North

“In the waves of change, we find our direction.” ~ unknown

I’m not a scientist, and I don’t know the exact value of “true north,” but to me it means in life’s journey, we are often uncertain where we stand, where we are going, and what is the right path for us personally. To know our “true north” enables us to follow the right path. The path that feels right, that is sometimes scary, but in the end, we know that “true north” will get us back to essentially who we are inside.

Whenever I feel anxious about where I am in life or if my life is on a path that is in line with my values, I think of my true north. My true north is where I’m from (ironically for me, it is actually very, very north in Northern Minnesota), where when I return there I feel home, I feel safe, I feel secure. I know that my roots are there, my family is from there. It is where my identity comes from.

My “second bird”, aka second child, aka Lauren, is just a few months away from leaving her very own “true north”, which is not northern Minnesota, nor is it Johns Creek or Suwanee, GA, where we as her parents have lived for the past 14 years. Lauren’s true north I believe is Athens, Georgia.

It was in Athens, Georgia, where she found out who she really is. What she is passionate about. Who she really loves. Who her true friends are. Where her identity has been discovered. So, what happens when you leave your “true north?”
She is struggling with letting Athens go and venturing forward to the “actual North” of State College, PA, where she will attain her Phd at Penn State beginning in August. She wants to let go and fly, yet doesn’t want to leave. She is ready, and yet she is sad. She wants to go tomorrow, but yet she doesn’t. Have you ever felt that way? Can you relate to that conflict?

Some of us have lived in the same place all our lives. Some of us have moved all over the United States, and some even the world. Can you identify what is your “true north?” Where is it that you can go back to in your heart, your mind, your soul, that helps you maintain your authentic self, despite your surroundings?
I believe it is a gift to have a “true north.” A place that changes, but then it doesn’t. New buildings, new roads, but then the same roads, the same buildings, that will always remain as if in a monument to our memories. So, for my conflicted daughter, who is struggling with leaving deep friendships, a town she loves more than anyplace on earth, a place where she has found herself, grown, thrived, made a difference, I totally get her pain and anxiety.

But despite the anxiety and pain, the excitement and the uncertain of leaving, the beauty of having a true north is that no matter where you go, no matter what you do, whether you thrive, fail, stay, leave, or a combination of all, you know that you can always go back to your home, your compass, your true north, and there you will see yourself, in all your pieces and all your journeys, and know that there is a solid place, a foundation, that has made you who you are.

For me, it is Duluth, MN. It is where I transformed from an anxious pre-teen in a new city to a college graduate, meeting my life’s partner. A place where I made mistakes, did good things, and left changed. It remains a place where when I return, I see where I’ve come from and where I’ve been, and the enormous impact that place has had on my life. It makes me reflect on the journey of my life, the twists and turns, and no matter where I go, that is home. That is my “true north.”

For my daughter, Lauren, you have gift, darling daughter. You have that place. You have it forever. Take it with you, hold it in your heart, all your friends, your memories, your challenges, and your personal growth. No one and no place can take that from you.

Do you know your “true north?” What does it mean to you? How has it helped you? I’d love to hear.

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