One year ago, I tearfully wrote one last blog in my office on the farm. A bittersweet moment because I knew our lives were never going to be the same.
A massive move was only a few days away. Being the traditional person I am, family and friends came to celebrate Thanksgiving at our home one last time. Turkey, pumpkin pie, and all the wonderful aromas filled the beautiful home that my husband built with his own two hands. The atmosphere was filled with laughter, tears, and an abundance of joy. Every nook and cranny of our home had a story, a memory, and I savored every single second of that day.
I cannot lie. Deep down, fear of the unknown lurked. Out of pure desperation, we were about to courageously step completely out of our comfort zone on faith.
What was our plan? No idea.
We sold our home and most of our belongings with no plan, no direction, no guidance.
Here we are, one year later.
Discovery. Diagnosis. Two moves across the country, two brain surgeries, publishing my first book, massive career change, living in not-so-nice campgrounds to living on the beach. We have put on over 7,000 miles pulling a 42-foot trailer through wind, rain, sleet, snow, and sun.
We downgraded from 3,500 square feet to 400 square feet.
Through it all many lessons have been revealed.
We were not meant to settle. We were destined to be pioneers.
Letting go of the wonderful settlement we had established felt heartbreaking.
At times it seemed cruel.
There were many occasions when our family felt cheated, and this is when I learned the gift of reflection. The gift of grit. The gift of perseverance.
I want to encourage you this beautiful season to take a MINDBREAK. Take a few quiet moments and reflect what you are most grateful for. Write it down. I promise you this: Chevy Chase was right in the movie “Christmas Vacation.”
Reflection is beautiful. Here’s my “Chevy Chase Moment”—a few reflections of what we are most thankful for this year.
I’m thankful we never settled. We let go. I’m thankful for being a pioneer. Because we would have never witnessed miracle upon miracle or have been able to share it with any of you.
I’m thankful for Derek’s Aunt Gail—my greatest example of a pioneer—who was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. We witnessed this courageous woman, who lived for family traditions and the holidays, accept the fact that last year would be her last earthly holiday season.
She taught me a great lesson.
Be a pioneer, not a settler.
She didn’t settle for dying. She pioneered living.
I’m thankful for messiness this Thanksgiving.
Messes in life make us realize the importance of life.
I’m thankful for the foundation of our past,
because it has become the cornerstone for the future.
I’m thankful for small acts of kindness and serving others. Kindness matters.
From prayers around the world at a corporate office, to one young girl who started a small movement that led her entire class to take a picture and show support for Derek, from the kindness of putting our trailer on the beach to people opening their homes to us—and countless other acts of random kindness that we have been graced with. We are thankful for all of you over the years that have shown us kindness. You know who you are.
I’m thankful for the service of our military. For our future son-in-law’s service.
For our tour of the USS MIDWAY. For veteran fighter pilots sharing their experiences with our son and pouring life lessons into him.
I’m thankful for Dr. Gopen and Dr. Yang. A diagnosis. A great risk. Two brain surgeries.
For Dr. Michelle Massa who never gave up.
I’m thankful for a little girl who came into our life during darkness, and became our light to give us hope.
I’m thankful to all of you who prayed for us, supported and encouraged us, sent us messages, packages, cards. For those of you who take the time read this blog, and reached out to share your personal struggles and pioneering stories. We are incredibly thankful for you.
I’m thankful for the past and the beauty that came from it. I’m thankful for new opportunities, revolutionary discoveries and privileged to open the doors of a new company that is mission based, with founding core values of:
Humility, Service, Innovation, Integrity, and Love.
Our dream to “Pay it Forward”and serve others has come true.
This Thanksgiving is not traditional. Pioneers aren’t traditional.
It is time for the journey to continue. The long long trailer is hitting the road again. Derek’s recovery is slow and steady. While he continues to recover, we are headed to Arizona for Thanksgiving where we will be together with our daughter Whitney and extended family. Missing our loved ones back home, our daughter and granddaughter, is hard to swallow this year. But we have learned that through sacrifice, the heart grows stronger.
May each and everyone of you be grateful and thankful for all the messiness in life.
It’s what comes after the mess that is waiting for you all!
Don’t settle in life. Go. Be a pioneer!
Sarah Hein, the Pioneer