Free As a Hummingbird

Niagara Falls, Canada

I have always known that I was born to fly. As a little kid, I was the president of the clubhouse. My siblings and cousins still tease me about how I made them pay dues. In junior high I started writing articles for the school newspaper in fifth grade and ended up being the editor by eighth grade. In high school I was elected class treasurer as a freshman and by my junior year, I was class president. During college I loved my job as the activity director of a nursing home. I changed my major from computer science to gerontology (the study of aging) and became a nursing home administrator by age twenty-two. At twenty-eight, I was overseeing senior adult ministries for a church on a volunteer basis. I found it to be so fulfilling that I switched careers and became a full-time pastor. You see the pattern. I’ve never spent too much time searching for worms in the ground before something in the blue sky above catches my attention and draws me treetop-ward.

And that’s exactly what happened again last year. My husband Tim and I went on an amazing Hawaiian adventure in June. Our cruise ship Pride of America transported us from Honolulu to Maui to Hilo to Kona to Kauai. We drove the winding Road to Hana, searched for (and found) Moloaa Bay where the pilot of Gilligan’s Island was filmed, took a hula dancing class, ate coconut macadamia ice cream, and stuck our feet in the turquoise water of Waikiki Beach. We relaxed a little and played a lot.

After arriving home, I posted on Facebook: “I want to be a tour director when I grow up!” It made me smile to say it. Twenty-five years as a pastor had taken its toll on me. I was exhausted and beat down from dealing with conflicts and tragedies and problems for such a long time. Wouldn’t that be the best job ever, I thought.

Monday morning came and my body jumped back into its regular routine… but my mind stayed in Hawaii. Instead of saying “hi” to people, I’d say “aloha.” Instead of saying “thank you,” I’d say “mahalo.” I’m pretty sure I got on my co-workers’ nerves. And I kept thinking about that Facebook post. I’d pull it up on my computer, reread it, and smile all over again.

About two weeks into my forced return to reality, I had an epiphany. “Why can’t I be a tour director?” I said out loud. I shocked myself by saying it. My mind (and heart) raced. Why can’t I be a tour director? I repeated, this time in my thoughts. Other people are tour directors—why can’t I be? This really made me smile. I typed “train to be a tour director” in the search bar of my computer screen, and thus began a new season of my life.

In December I flew to Denver to take a tour director certification course, finishing first in my class. (Aim for the treetop, right?) In February I went to work for a tour operator doing travel writing. In August I began leading tours for one of the largest tour operators in the world. New York City, Boston, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Lancaster PA, Washington DC, Philadelphia… an absolute dream come true.

I told my friends, Janice and Julia, “I’m free as a bird! I think I’ll be a hummingbird because hummingbirds are fascinating.”

Janice announced, “I think I’ll be an eagle because they are powerful and beautiful.”

“Well, I’m going to be a flamingo,” Julia added. “You can’t go wrong with pink and you get to eat shrimp all day in the tropics!”

What kind of bird are you going to be? The kind you choose doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to aim for the treetops and FLY!

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“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV).

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