August 29, 2009

The Joy of Accomplishment

The drive to accomplish does not come from the pressure to succeed, but from a desire to stand back and smile.
- Kayla Rupp

I searched the internet for a quote that suited me, but found nothing. So I said it myself. Whether it is standing back to look at the fine meal I have put on the table, or smiling as I close the bedroom door on my tucked-in sons at night, accomplishment builds self-esteem and delivers joy like few other aspects of life can do.

The four days without Daniel are over. He is flying home now and will land on the other side of the city in about an hour. I made it.

No one was here with me to witness the small victories that made up this experience. No one was here to praise me for my creativity, my endurance, or my sheer willpower. But that might well have been the sweetest part of all. I was my own coach, my own cheerleader, and now I am the only one who really knows what I've got in me. I've got more in me than I ever knew, I will tell you that.

I enjoyed a similar private triumph in college when I decided to dust off my old violin, which I had never learned to play outside of high school orchestra, and try my hand across it one last time. This time, I determined, I would make myself proud. It was my senior year, and I was engaged to a man in another state, so I had little to distract me from my goal. I practiced every day, which was new to me entirely. I worked very hard, in a practice room on campus, alone. When the time came for my final performance, I played in a large auditorium that was empty save for my professor and two of her colleagues with their notepads, and my piano accompaniment. I nailed it, right down to the last stroke of my bow. As I faced my audience of three, I smiled and bowed, and walked off the stage with my head higher than it had hardly ever been. It was the perfect way to end a not-so-perfect college experience, and I was truly proud of myself for the first time in quite a long time.

I am currently reading My Life in France, the story of Julia Child. We do not have the luxury over here of seeing new releases in the theater, so I joined the Julie&Julia craze by book alone. It is a great tale of fulfilling one's dreams, and it is inspiring me not to lose sight of my own. I am living my greatest dream now, which has always been to be a mother and run my own household. I am sure no other accomplishment will compare to watching my grown sons stride the earth as honorable men. But I will only be in my late 40s when this job is through. I hope to add to that a career in journalism, a published novel, and perhaps a culinary degree just for fun. In a perfect world, I would also go to beauty school and open a salon in my basement where I would cut hair and detail nails and be a listening ear, but beauty school costs way too much.

I will go now to brush my teeth and change my shirt for Daniel, who should be gracing our threshold soon. Hopefully it will be quite some time before I feel such accomplishment again!