With my 10 year high school reunion fast approaching, I have been forced to reflect on this past decade of life. As expected, there have been numerous highs and lows, but here is what I have gained from life thus far.
Codi Smith is a 22-year-old college graduate who earned her degree from the comfort of her home. There are many of us out there who never really thought of this idea – staying at home for college (me included) – but for Codi, it was ideal. She attended Park Hill South High School and participated in its A+ program, so she had two free years (not including books and lab fees) at the local Community College, Maple Woods. Codi said she really likes Kansas City and had no intention of leaving. So, while all the kids around her in her graduating class were rushing to leave their hometown, she was soaking in the pleasure of home-cooked meals and the luxury of showering without shoes on.
My name is Madi Blinzler. I am 18 years old, and I should be in college right now. College is the next step that every senior is beyond ready for. As graduation passed, and summer flew by, I was getting nervous to start the next chapter of my life. When you find the perfect university your heart is set and ready to go. Mine was too -- until July. I never really planned on attending college anywhere except Missouri State. As summer approached, I was anxious to get ready to leave my hometown of Kansas City and say hello to Springfield, but that wasn’t the case.
I'm in my young forties (that sounds so much better than referring to myself as in my early forties). In no way do I consider this mid-life; in fact, I'm often a bit surprised that I'm already here, an adult, and actually responsible for raising other people. No, this isn't mid-life, but that doesn't stop me from wondering sometimes if I'm suffering from what has been embraced as a midlife crisis...
Three weeks ago I moved my family to a new home. The weeks prior involved ruthless purges of anything that no longer serves a purpose. During this purge I came across a photo my husband had taken during one of our honeymoon hikes in Maui. I had just turned twenty-four. I wore a sky-blue bikini and was muscled and tan, following many months at the gym and runs outside to prepare for wedding photos. (Side bar: There is a reason North Face features hikers in pants and long-sleeve shirts. Bikinis are a bad choice.
Thirty-something…I like the sound of that, at least while I can still claim it! The first thing that pops in my mind when I hear thirty-something is the popular TV series by the same name back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. My parents loved that show and, although it wasn’t necessarily suitable for a nine-year-old, I would try to listen and sneak a glimpse every now and then. To my young mind, of course, the characters on that show seemed “old.” I was curious, though; like most kids, I was intrigued by the concept of being an adult with all the drama and sassy dialogue that pretend characters on a TV show suggested would be my life someday.
Everyone knows the story of the cowboy. He works from sun up until sun down seven days a week, 365 days a year; he tends to his crops and livestock, praying endlessly about the weather and hoping for one year in the black. You know the story of the cowboy, but do you know the story of the cowboy’s wife?
It’s rare to find someone who hasn’t been touched by addiction in some way – friends, family members, colleagues, or acquaintances battling demons that only they can see. Much is written of the heroin epidemic in the United States, the numbers rising so rapidly that it is hard to read the news on any given day and not see a related story. How did this happen?
Ah, to be a millennial. The generation who not only had a rocking childhood filled with Pop Rocks, VHS tapes, and green plastic turtle sandboxes, we then transitioned into adulthood with gadgets and gizmos of plenty. Life is full of opportunities to be great and being twenty, the potential is so close I can almost taste it.
Originally I had planned to write about all the fun places in KC. What it's like to be a young, single woman in this city. Where to find the best drink specials. What days certain bars are popular. Who plays the best music. The best place to go on dates, hold a girls night, grab a glass of wine and appetizers etc. And I can still submit that list. The post is nearly complete. But I realized, that wouldn't be me keeping it real.
I have more than one friend who has a child with autism, each of whom is navigating a complicated path that is as unique and special as their child. I’ve learned a thing or two as we talk about the issues they face, the challenges growing ever more complicated as their children reach the age of adulthood and pathways end or become less clear. I have learned so much – and been able to offer so little – an ear to listen and shoulder to lean on all that I am qualified to give sometimes.