I had to think about this quite a bit. I can't decide on any one thing, so here's what I've come up with:
Wow. Anyone remember this? As a young gymnast and female athlete, I was glued to the 1984 Olympic games. I remember the politics and the personality . . . everything about it. I remember that Mary Lou needed a 10 to win these games. A 9.95 would have tied her with the favorite and world champion. I remember seeing Bela behind the gates since he wasn't really the coach. I remember his pump-up speech and her perfect vault. And she won. She was the first American gymnast to win a gold medal. It meant anything was possible. It was amazing. I started eating Wheaties when she was on the box. I worked harder because of her. When I blew my knee to bits in college and I was dog-paddling in a wading pool with ankle weights strapped on, it was Mary Lou and her knee surgery only 5 weeks before the olympics that really kept me going.
I had to go rooting through old boxes to find this. It's a copy of literary magazine that I co-editored my senior year of high school. At that time, it was a life changer. If you think I'm a closet writer now, you should have seen me then. Being a part of this literary magazine gave me wings with writing. Not necessary MY writing, but writing for the sake of emotional outlet. It allowed me to process my parents' divorce. It allowed me to grieve the loss of an ideal and the loss of potential. It allowed me to transition from angry to okay. As a brilliant perk, I made one of my best friends ever . . . a friend that I would not have made in another world. Our friendship, this magazine allowed me to fail and be picked up, stand on my own feet and be bold. It was the beginning of who I am today.
And last, but most importantly . . . motherhood. This is tiny Mimi resting in her daddy's arms. I love this picture. Love. This. Picture. An enlargment still hangs in the front room. It reminds me of how tiny they are at first. And how responsible we are for them . . . even when they aren't tiny anymore. Being a mommy is the single most defining element of my adult life. Before my inbox overflows with "what about marriage??", let me say . . . marriage, too, but MOTH can take care of himself. Being responsible for a tiny human is an honor and a privlege beyond any other. It has made me face my fears, my insecurities, rub shoulders with angels and face true horrors. It has made me a better person. It has made me appreciate my "mamma bear" side. It's the lightbulb event that defines doing the RIGHT thing versus doing the EASY thing. It has made me appreciate true good intentions and best interests. Some moments have scared me shitless. Others have been impossibilty difficult. Most, however, are peppered with true happiness and joyful noise.