big moments

Yesterday, was my dad’s birthday. He’s now one year shy of 7-0 but you’d never guess he was rounding the corner into his seventies with how much full life he is still living.

Growing up, he worked a whole bunch. Sixty, seventy, even upwards of ninety and hundred hours weeks (the latter was a scary season that, thankfully, led to a job change!), were the norm. There aren’t tons of small, every day moments I remember having him around. My mom was superwoman, handling all day to day tasks with us kids. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve explored how this affected me growing up. There has been a little soul work to do and with Dad’s retirement a few summers back, it gave opportunity for reflection and discussion. He and I have talked about it and I’m good. Being loved by him was NEVER a doubt. I don’t hold it against him. But there’s always been a part of me that wishes he had been around for more of those every day moments.

Yet, two weeks ago, something clicked in my head. I was flying over the Gulf of Mexico, in a sea plane, above giant sea turtles, after traveling 60 miles off the shore of Key West to a remote National Park called the Dry Tortugas. No cell service. No electricity. And some of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen in my life.

After having had a full day away from the kids, spending it in nature, my soul was alive, set on fire, and typically when that happens, every fiber of my being wants to write. Since I get air sick, and flying in a plane used commonly in the Alaska bush not designed for passenger comfort, I couldn’t write much but I penned this on a note app in my phone to attempt to capture what I was feeling.

“Adventures are worth it. The investment is worth it. Don’t get so caught up in the day to day life stuff that you forget to invest in BIG MOMENTS. Life is full of small moments and big moments. The small ones matter, the big ones do, too.”

This big moment wasn’t supposed to be mine. I wasn’t supposed to be on plane in the first place. It was my brother’s ticket but in the final hour, he heard I wanted to go and offered, not just his spot on the plane, but also to BABYSIT (Yes, best brother in the world!!)

So here I find myself, on a sea plane, with two of my favorite men in the world (my dad and husband) and I’m thinking about my father. Who he is. What makes him tick. The relationship we’ve had. His presence while I was growing up.

It dawned on me that most of my memories with my dad are BIG moment memories. Like when we rode a trolley in San Francisco, took a ferry to Prince Edward Island, saw the Pope speak at the Vatican, hiked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon, watched the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theater in NYC, visited Alcatraz in San Diego, traveled on a house boat down the Florida coast, climbed a lighthouse to watch a sunset, at my wedding, just to name a few.

I almost talked myself out of getting on the Sea Plane to the Dry Tortugas. Anxiety was kicking in and my professional “worst case scenario” tapes in my head started to play. Would there be enough water? What if I got a migraine? Air sick? Sun burnt? As I opened up and shared this with a few fam members at dinner the night before, my brother asked “what’s the BEST scenario?” (That deserves it’s own blog post — how GREAT is that question?!)) and my response was something to the affect — I’d have the best time with two of my best men making life changing memories.

That’s exactly what it was. A true life changing, soul filling, experience. Only a week removed from wearing my breastfeeding hat, I had begun the journey to find out who is VIRGINIA, apart from the kids. Being gone a full day with no cell service, shoved me into a sacred space of being present on the grand adventure and, like I said, it set my soul on fire.

And my dad? He made it happen. He dreamed of the experience. He planned the trip. He paid the bill. And he sat next to me on the plane.

I spend a lot of my time and energy fighting to stay present. To soak in the little moments with my kids. To make the daily grind a little less grind-y by fighting for joy in any old hour out of the day. That’s a worthy cause, a cross I would die on to prove it’s importance. AND I see how important it is to also fight for the big moments. I’ll quote myself, again…

“Adventures are worth it. The investment is worth it. Don’t get so caught up in the day to day life stuff that you forget to invest in BIG MOMENTS. Life is full of small moments and big moments. The small ones matter, the big ones do, too.”

My dad has been a champion for those big moments, my entire life. He worked long, tireless days to put money in the bank to pay for them. He’s created countless spreadsheets and done a bajillion hours of research to prepare for them. He’s instilled in me an adventurer spirit, a wanderlust heart and through these adventures, a confidence to take risks and be brave.

It’s a legacy I’m grateful for…for me and for my kids. We are sure blessed to have him as a father and Papa!!!! Happy Birthday, Dad, I love you SO much! Thanks for these memories and all the many ones we will make in the future ❤️

xoxo, va

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