Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hold on to that lovely feeling.

Finished my first module yesterday. An exam that culminated into a celebration of sorts, with new friends and old, in places new and old. I realize that this high, this confidence, can be so addicting. This trying out new things, struggling, struggling, struggling.....then bam, catharsis. The challenge, the overcoming, the digging deep....that, that's a magical and amazing kind of special.

I'm in the thick of things in some projects, in the very beginning humps of others, and I can very closely just touch the end light on a couple. It is all so much but so good at once.

I have so much to say but can't find the right words at the same time. So much to do but at a standstill and lost at times. The hard work, "paying my dues", earning respect and building a foundation...and sometimes, I am scared. And sometimes, I doubt. And sometimes, I am insecure and so very unsure.

This stage of my life is a place that I am so excited to be in at the moment. For once, I feel good enough and confident enough about the things that I do not know and the places that I am going. There is true passion in the things that I do. I am inspired, but more than that, I am fueled with determination and belief. I believe...I believe in this project, I believe in rachealkate, I believe in us, I believe in myself, and that is such a gift.

I don't think I can put into words what it feels like to finally be here.

It's taken me years, and years, and years, of heartache and disappointments, of bad choices and failures, of insecurities and doubt. It has taken me years.

But I am here.

I am here and I am celebrating being here.

I am here and I am putting one foot in front of the other.

Digging deep, and continuing.

A lot like the last 15 minutes of RPM when you are /this/ close to passing out and the trainer tells you to bump the intensity up a notch and you, honest to god, think your heart might burst out of your chest, and that there is absolutely no way your legs and thighs could push any further and dear god you've just realized the existence of about 700 hundred other aching, burning muscles in your butt cheeks.

But you dig deep, you tune out the world and find your beat, you silence your doubts, you suck it in.

That's it.

You suck it all in.

You say, I can, instead of no.

You say, Hells Yes, instead of wtf.

You say, let's do it, and you give it your all.

Your everything.

......and you succeed.



"If people believe in themselves, it is amazing what they can accomplish."
~Sam Walton

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Goodbye, I Love America.

I found God, on a blanket, on wet grass, in the midst of thousands of people, wiping away tears and looking up into a gorgeous lit up sky confronting my fears.

I found God, at my lowest low, unsure, afraid, broken. Something about laying on your back and looking up and being lost in a crowd, something about being so small in the grand scheme of things, when the last few weeks where everything in my life was so infinitely big and glaringly huge just comforted. Something about knowing, knowing that my God had me, that my God was going to take care of me, that my God had a plan and that this was part of the plan. That my God had not left, that my God had not forsaken me, that my God was right beside me carrying me....something about that night, and that day, something clicked.

And perhaps it was the band, or maybe it was just because I love love love fireworks. Perhaps it was because this, this festival had been a constant in my life in Springfield, a tradition. My favorite part of the year, and my favorite celebration in Springfield. First as an international student, and the last time, as a wife. And I remember begging to go, campaigning to go weeks and months ahead. I remember, that year, all the things I did and had to do and I was angry and I was sad and I was heartbroken for this girl I didn't know anymore, and this girl that let herself be broken, and this girl that let someone else decide her happiness, and this girl that always asked how high instead of no.

And that year, 18 days after the moment where everything changed, I was determined. Determined to do this on my own, determined to get there even if I got lost, determined, even if I didn't know who I was and didn't know where I was going. Determined, in reclaiming, in taking back, in not letting this be another loss, another casualty, another thing to write off. Determined, to be in control.

Thank God for GPS.

Thank God for my mom who said nothing and everything by just being there.

And thank God for friends, who packed a blanket, a big hug, and pushed, and said, you can do this Racheal, you...YOU can do this.

Don't back out.

Don't get scared.

Don't say it's too hard, or that it's too much or whatever other excuse you're going to justify it with because you're scared.

Don't, don't because if you do, you lose.

You lose in a huge monumental way.

And it's way too early to throw in the towel, have faith, child, have faith.

It will all make sense and it will be something you will look back on someday and just know.

So, for the first time, I got to stay. I stayed until the lights went out and the last band played their last song. I stayed until the parking lot was mostly empty, and I had roasted corn and did whatever my little heart wanted to do. I stayed and had fun, I walked around, I got to go to the main area, I didn't have to sit in the parking lot in the car, stressed out, bribing. I got to listen to the bands, I got to actually see the stage more than a random pass-by get back to the car immediately.

And like so much before, it was eye-opening.

The next year, we took a picture under the same arch from all the years before, a staple.

Except it was different.

This time around, I knew who I was, I knew where I was going, and I knew what I was made of.

This time around, I knew where God was, I knew what He could do, and I trusted in that faith completely.

This time around, instead of fighting or the silent treatment or the begging, I got to share an amazing experience with someone I loved. I got to relax and breathe and not worry about what the consequences would be. I didn't worry that he would be mad because there were so many people, I didn't have to apologize that there was such a ridiculous amount of traffic.

But more magical than that, we not only stayed, but we hung out in car, rolled down the windows, and just talked.

And this is why I know it is different this time around.

Because he is different.

Because I am different.

And no matter what we go through and no matter what we fight about, he won't happen again.

At first, I was so afraid, so sure, so tired of the same scene playing and replaying again, not realizing that every time before, I had only scratched the surface. That the yucky and pain and hurt had to happen, that the hard work had to be done, that the demons needed to be confronted and exorcised. That until I learned to talk about it, to acknowledge it, I would always be stuck on repeat.

And that is why I am grateful.

Because that first night, 18 days out, that was the night I learned to say me.

I choose me.

I pick me.

That was the night I learned to reclaim me.

That was the night I knew, for sure, that God had my back.

That was the night I had happy and grateful tears mixed in with the grief.

That was the night I learned to fight, fight harder than I had ever fought before and dig deep.

And this summer vacation, the journey, the reliving and retelling. The playback, the creation of new memories, the letting go, the returning. Of saying thank you, of saying look how far I've come, of saying, I did it. This summer vacation, a celebration of so much, of life, of being here, of just being.

This summer, this was part of the plan too.

In fact, this was the main reason my trip extended far far beyond what I was comfortable with into a two month break. Because this, this was important.

And so while it breaks my heart that it is over, it is also in some sense poetic.

Because this, this is the letting go.

This is the returning.

This is the closure, the tying up of old stories, the creating anew.

Goodbye I Love America, I will miss you, and I will always have so much love for all the experiences, but most of all, thank you.

Thank you for being there for me as a new international student.

Thank you for being there for me as a stepmother and as a wife.

Thank you for being there for me when my life was falling apart.

But most of all, thank you for being there for me when I learned how to laugh again.

In all the years, I never did find that watermelon stand.

But I did always find that spark of happy, that pure grin-so-hard-my-face-might-break, when the fireworks started.

"The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle."

~Anais Nin

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Tonight, I started charting out a tentative plan for our summer. And it is big, and huge, and is a full circle, it is revisiting places where we have come from and redefining who we are and what we are made of and it is being able to make that journey together.

In these places, we will make new memories, and in these places, we will find closure to the past, and the forgotten stories, and remember the magic of being.

I have an interview with the Embassy on Tuesday. On Tuesday, I'll find out if they will issue me a visa, a non-immigrant visa. Because on Tuesday, I will give up my green card. On Tuesday, I will say, I am giving you back your American dream, and I am making a new one. A whole different kind of special, amazing, starry eyed, amazing things can happen if you just work hard and believe kind. I will say, thank you for taking me in, for helping me grow and for stretching my imagination and my heart, thank you for being a soft place to land for a while and thank you for the lessons on friendship and humanity and on love. But on Tuesday, I will also permanently make this home, on Tuesday I will put it on paper, on Tuesday, I will say, I choose Malaysia. And it makes my heart happy.

I had a moment the other day, filling out forms and deciding if New Orleans should be a part of this road trip and thinking about how I will be flying in on May 15 and it will be a special little girl's birthday. I was thinking about how it was March and how it would have been our anniversary and I was thinking about how I had to really stop and think about how long it's been. I had a moment, and then, the moment was over.

That's how it comes now, that's the face of grief when it is healed. It leaves scars, and every once in a while, when you rub it the wrong way, it hurts. And I think, some part of me will always be sad about the way things unfolded but scale tips a lot more towards the good now. And for that, I am so incredibly grateful.

So much has happened since I last wrote, there are things I want to document and write and put away for later, and there are things that I want to just keep for myself. The words and the feelings, it is a process, but I am in a good place.

Correction, I am in a very very good place.

I am so excited for this trip, a goodbye of sorts, and a beginning of another.

This, this feels good.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

"For last year's words belong to last year's language, and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning."
~T.S. Eliot