Life's Curveballs

Hindsight is 20/20 and can help put into perspective these crazy days with all of its doomsday pandemic reports. Chaos reigns, mass media allows it to infiltrate our core being. Is it any wonder we’ve become anxiety ridden society? I put it all into perspective....

Rewind 12 months - my daughter, like most seniors in college trying to figure out what direction to take, chose to build upon her study abroad program in Africa and decided to pursue an opportunity in the Peace Corps. She applied in January to an available position in Mongolia and while she had hoped to serve in Africa, she took the assignment in Asia. She was scheduled to leave in late May, two weeks after graduation.
Most of March and April were spent preparing for graduation and her planned future in Mongolia. Life, though filled with daily stresses, seemed to progress “on plan”. I enjoyed the anticipation of commencement and attended several campus event with Erica and her friends.
Erica was also training for her first half marathon with my run club so I saw her frequently.

Then what felt like a life altering event occurred - while running the half marathon Erica sustained a stress fracture in her fibula. Upon seeing the xrays days after the race (she did finish; we thought the injury was a muscle strain), we realized the Peace Corps would pull her medical clearance. She would not go to Mongolia in May.

first half marathon
We didn't know she had broken her fibula!

Life’s once clear path flipped and curved into a murky abyss.

I admit I was stressed about the situation because I do not like sudden change that I cannot control. In addition to these changes, Erica’s personal mobility took a hit - she was put into a medical boot, given crutches with instructions for no weight bearing movement. I then realized how unfriendly campus could be, with its sprawling grounds and barebones handicap access. While I’m sure the university is fully compliant with the ADA laws, this sudden change was not easy to adjust to on the fly. (And I now fully appreciate such ADA laws and requirements). She essentially moved back home and I drove her to the last few weeks of classes and Final exams. She graduated gracefully sporting those crutches across the stage. She certainly stood out! The day after graduation, she and several friends flew to St. Thomas - crutches be damned!
ACES Convocation - Crutching Across the Stage
Crutching Across the Stage to Receive her Diploma

Amidst all these events, Erica made alternate plans for the summer. She got a summer job teaching science to under privileged girls in Chicago. After 6 weeks the fracture healed and she applied for another opening in the Peace Corps - an assignment in Africa. She was offered a position to work in Guinea as an AgroForestry volunteer, a position better aligned with her interests and degree. This job would start in December.

The initiator - the broken fibula that felt like a huge disruption at the time, really served as a course adjustment and allowed all of us room to accept the oncoming change.

Erica spent her summer in the Big City, clearly enjoyed teaching science and making an impact on her students. She was able to join our extended family’s grand vacation in Hilton Head. She worked at the horse barn until departing in December.
How Often Do All the Cousins Get together? Not Often Enough


I was able to accompany her to her departure city of Washington DC and give her a big hug before setting her off on her great adventure. Had she gone to Mongolia, I would have missed that departure.

As of mid February, she has been officially installed in her village where she will serve over the next two years. While life there exhibits hardships and challenges, she has made friends and strives to make a difference.

Featured by Peace Corps Guinea on International women day
Featured on the Peace Corps Guinea IG Feed for International Women's Day!

Had she gone to Mongolia, she would be coming back to the US, a mere 6 months into her official assignment. Last week, Peace Corps evacuated all their workers in Mongolia due to the coronavirus. These events cemented in my mind - she was never meant to go to Mongolia. She is exactly where she’s supposed to be. And if she gets sent home from Africa, then it will be OK.

The lesson to be learned here? To be content with the change and challenges presented to us in this crazy thing called life. Perhaps what you planned for and worked towards didn’t pan out and carves out into another direction. Do the best you can with a positive attitude. Ask for help. Build a community of friends to support you in the good and the bad. Don’t be afraid of change. Take it in faith that things will work out.

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