One Zip Code Over From Where I Started

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My husband and children take in the Mt. Cutler hiking trail during a recent visit to Colorado Springs – I was there for business, but built in some family vacation before and after.

My phone is pretty old, in modern terms anyway. I’m multiple iphone generations behind. The new OS’s take more space and I have to comb through and dump or delete things to keep storage free. This constant review of my “data” as it were brings something into focus… beyond just, “I should probably upgrade my phone.”

In combing through my gallery tonight to make storage space, I realized that one month ago today I was leaving Austin to head into San Antonio. A week prior to that I was at NASA headquarters and then helping to run one of the largest space law specific conferences in the country – where we announced that we’d been awarded a NASA pilot program grant. Since then I’ve driven rural highways in Kansas, worked with students and attended the American Ballet Theater in New York City, and enjoyed the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I took my kids trick or treating this week. Tonight I read them 7 books and I rocked my baby girl while I sang to her. This month I’ll be in my place, showing students rural Nebraska and showcasing the critical telecom and broadband infrastructure that keep modern agriculture alive. In December I’m back to DC. In January I’m speaking in front of colleagues from law schools around the country in New Orleans. And so on. I’m always in motion. I visit Universities and military bases all over the U.S., and soon abroad.

I don’t “have it all.” That’s a cliche proverb by now, but I’m “having all of it.” Every last bit. Lately, when someone casually says “how is it going?” I’ve been responding, “I’m exhausted.” It is true, but it’s not complete. I’m taking a moment now to reflect on my infinite gratitude. My position has taken me all over this country in the past six years, but my thankfulness extends beyond travel. I’m having my life. I’m in the driver’s seat.

While in the Chicago airport I received an email that several of my co-workers at the law college had nominated me for an internal award for those who show dedicated service to building our institution; for dedication to our students and our mission. Our Dean, a leader who I respect and invests in his team, selected me from these nominations. Sitting in a dirty airport terminal on a Friday night, away from my kids, cleaning discarded gum off my bags (ugh), I had tears streaming down my face. They believe in me – because I believe in Nebraska.

The prairie is in my bones. I love where I am from, though I didn’t always. When I was 18 if you’d told me I’d be buying a house and raising my family just one zip code over from where I grew up I’d have been horrified. Foolish girl, bless her. She was impulsive, focused on fun and attention, and well, didn’t get into many schools. Nebraska held her. I found my undergraduate education at a small local liberal arts school. I could have left for law school, I got into several schools, but we didn’t. I had reasons, talking points, but I really couldn’t tell you why my husband (then fiance/boyfriend) and I didn’t take that opportunity to move. Educated here, living here, raising my kids here, the open horizon is just a part of who I am. My children are having a picturesque life, and I’m more than a little obsessed with their awesomeness.

I have a career that is growing and changing and taking me to places and opportunities I never anticipated. I’m sometimes restless, being human and all, and around that time some unusual and surprising thing comes along that keeps me engaged and growing where I’m planted.

Life isn’t perfect. I’m tired. I gained all my weight back from my last weight loss (shrug). I forget to do things. Emails sometimes go unanswered. I put my foot in my mouth almost daily. I drink too much cheap wine (see also; weight gain). I sacrifice things I don’t want to – I’m not the best friend, sister, daughter, wife, co-worker, or mother I know I could be if I could any one of things the attention it deserves. I absolutely miss events and important moments in my children’s life because I’m working (that one is the real knife in the gut).

But here it is – I’m having it all of it.

All of life. The excitement of professional growth. The deep bonds of building a family with a partner I cherish. The fulfillment of raising children… the patience and tolerance built from raising children. The ups the downs, the joy.

All of this, one zip code over from where I started. That, right now, is something I’m in awe of.

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