It always a pleasure to meet you.

At the age of 32 I have been able to meet so many different and colorful people in my life. I haven’t been able to travel the world like I had originally thought. But, I’ve lived in many towns, fortunate to meet new people, and grateful to have them a part of my life to help me become everything that I am today.

While I am on this personal life journey to find what will make me happy, to learn to be more selfish and less selfless, to take time for me, I have begun to think of the people who have come into my life. I have begun to ponder how my life is so enriched because of those people.

Everyone who comes into your life plays an integral part in the particular stage of life you are in. Whether it was a bad relationship or an amazing one. Each person, each group, each experience allowed you to learn and make decisions that has helped shape you into the person that you are. And this last week and a half I have thought of the people who have touched my life, who have helped shape me into the girl I am.

I have thought about my kindergarten teacher who was able to teach my siblings and I. How she helped cultivate my love of learning. The thousands of songs we learned throughout the year that I still sing when I am feeling like reminiscing about the simplicities of childhood. The student of the quarter award that she was proud to present to my parents. The many times she would allow me to sneak into the library while the rest of the kids napped. I owe my love of reading and writing to her.

The first guy friend. I was only in the second grade but I remember being smittened by him. I remember how we could talk about whatever we had for lunch, whatever we had planned for the weekend, who we wanted to give our gotcha cards to. He became my best friend. Being in a school that was different from what I was accustomed to, he was a welcome reprieve in remembering to not forget that I am unique and that is totally okay. That the judgement of others aren’t worth listening to if I believed in myself.

The girl that, no matter how often I pushed her away, became a figure in my life that I looked up to and respected. My best friend, through thick and thin, helped me get through the darkest time of my life. Her absolute understanding of a complicated mind and heart. Her patience as I grew from a girl to a young lady. Her cherished gift of Flopsy is irreplaceable. She was the first person to tell me I could be whatever I wanted to be, I just needed to believe.

The preacher who proved to be different then others who called themselves Christians. The preacher who defied the odds of what I saw and was taught as being a Christian. The man of God who never judged me for my mistakes, my verbiage, my tattoos, my past. A man who became my grandfather and taught me that God was a God of love, a God who forgave and never left me even when I pushed Him away. The man of God that made me want to serve.

The boy that stole my heart. The one that taught me that I could be loved after everything that I went through. The one that took my hand to keep me up until I could stand on my own. The man who helped show me God’s love. The man you became my family when I felt alone. The man my father accepted and gave me away to. The man who through the so many bad has been a steadfast in my life, even when others said he would not, or when others felt he was not worthy of me.

Many others like them have crossed my path.

Friends who were in my life for a short time to show me that I have value. Loved ones who taught me to have my own voice and to take time for me. Cohorts who I could spend hours talking to about everything under the sun and even the sun itself. Acquaintances who made me remember that life is about laughter, and music, and kindness.

Enemies who challenged me to be a better person and to let go and let God. Opposition that would laugh behind my back because I trusted them enough to consider them allies. Backbiters that no matter my good intentions ran me out of places because they didn’t like the way I handled things. Detractors who taught me that being the best version of myself meant I didn’t have to stoop to their level.

Every life that crossed my path – good, bad and ugly – have proved to be lessons that I needed to learn. No matter the hurt that it caused. No matter how distressed and tortured the storm that brewed. No matter how immensely joyous I was at that moment in time. Everything happened for a reason – whether it was beknownst to me or not. Every relationship – past, present, or future – served to help me become the compassionate, loving, kind hearted woman I hope I am. Each alliance made helped us to pinpoint spots in our destination that we needed to go.

After a long week and a half, I have realized that all relationships – insignificant and significant – have expiration dates. Sometimes those dates come when you least expect it, some roll along sooner rather than later, some don’t ever seem to want to end. Suffice to say, it is what you learn in those relationships that matter. If someone shows you that you can be loved, believe it. If someone shows you that you are unique blemished, believe it. If someone shows you that your opinions matter, believe it. If someone hurts you, learn from it. If someone lies to you, learn from it. If someone angers you, learn from it. If someone gives you a magic carpet, fly. If someone keeps you on a pedastal, stand tall. If someone fills you, enjoy the moment.

All the characters that come into the scene are there to help tell your story. And when their star has died and it is time for them to exit, shake their hand and let them know it was a pleasure to meet them and let them go.

To all you who have put my heart together, challenged my mind and body, and soothed my soul – thank you. Those who are still in it, keep pushing me. And for those who have exited stage left?

It was a great pleasure to meet you. xoxo