Being pregnant, having child changes lifePublished 3:56pm Saturday, June 1, 2013
Column: Live United, by Ann Austin
This has been a year of new beginnings for many people I know. Some friends are starting a life with the one they love, others are growing their family, making a career change, doing scary and exciting things and ultimately discovering different parts of themselves.
My family has been blessed with the addition of a little girl. My husband, Nick, and I will be married 10 years this December, so we have waited quite a while. But the wait has been worth it — she is a lovely little girl and we’re so happy to be parents.
Elise was completely intentional. We talked for years about having children and what it would mean for our family to go down that path. We were lucky to be able to plan for her and enjoy the anticipation of having her join our family. We are at a place in our lives where we can take the time to enjoy her and be fully there for her. Because, when you become a parent, life is no longer about you.
There is such beauty in setting intentions for our lives. One thing I’ve learned is, though we try to control the world around us, the only things we truly have any control over are our perceptions, our reactions to life and our intentions.
I have discovered there is freedom in setting intentions — letting life transpire how it will and finding joy in the lessons learned along the way. This doesn’t mean that we sit back; we must be vigilant to help things along. I believe we must speak and take action when our hearts feel called. Even if a difficult situation presents itself, we can bear it with grace if we’ve set our intentions.
If we have set our intentions, we will not be distracted by naysayers or other people’s perceptions, rather we will continue along our chosen path.
This kind of living is healing. I have watched my friends set intentions for their lives and, though they definitely have encountered struggles along the way, they have persevered and are in a better place now.
And, because of this, they are able to help others.
Something that makes me sad is when I see people who are floundering in life, without direction and continually making decisions that hurt themselves and those around them. We have seen much of this in the news lately. People become desperate or depressed because they feel like they don’t have a choice. And so they react and they hurt others or they hurt themselves.
But there is always a choice. And we have more time than we realize to think things through. The amazing thing about human beings is that we are able to constantly redefine ourselves. We can completely change how we choose to respond to the world.
It all comes from what intentions we set. Do we want to help ourselves or help others? Do we wish to let money rule us or use money as a tool in our lives? Do we choose to allow societal norms define what is beautiful to us, or find our own beauty?
These are the questions we should be asking every day. We have great power with the intentions we set — the beliefs we abide by and the way we carry out our lives.
I recognized when I became pregnant that I calmed down considerably. For one thing I didn’t have the energy to go a thousand directions at once, but mainly I realized this life was no longer my own — that my husband and I are now responsible for a little girl who doesn’t know anything about the world.
Our intentions grow stronger every day. We are committed to be good parents to Elise and help her explore and understand this world, to recognize the beauty in nature and look for the good in people.
It’s amazing to think we are just a few of many who are setting similar intentions this year with their children, or with marriage vows to love and honor their partner, to grow local businesses and challenge themselves with a new understanding.
When I think about all of this, it gives me great hope. Though there are always a few who are misguided and do harm, there are many more who have set positive intentions and are doing good work. We are on a better path together.
I would like to encourage anyone who is interested in building up our community, to consider volunteering during Rocking the Block, which will take place in August. It is a joint effort with Shinefest, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority to fix up local homes. We have selected four homes this year to help renovate and are looking for skilled and unskilled volunteers to help out during one week. Please feel free to call the United Way office at 373-8670 for more information.
Thank you and live united.
Ann Austin is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.