Guest columnists Kate and David Marshall: If Life Is A Journey, Here’s a Map (part 2)

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Kate and David Marshall, married for 28 years, live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they raised their children Emily, 26, and Ben, 23. They are co-authors of My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future, a journal that guides people at any stage of life through a process of reflecting on their past and clarifying priorities for their future. The Marshalls are also co-authors of six other guided journals for celebrating family, relationships and personal growth: www.marshallbooks.net

Dear Emily and Ben,

When you were young, we sometimes wondered what you’d be doing as adults.

Emily, your favorite German word when we lived in Germany was “Hund,” and you playfully insisted on wearing a rubber doggy nose for a remarkably large part of your pre-school life there, so we were not surprised to see your passion for dog training in high school, nor that you went to college planning to study pre-veterinary medicine.

But you developed other interests along the way as well—history, politics and government, and more—that excited you more than Organic Chemistry, so you’re now halfway through law school. You always loved our winter visits to New Hampshire, so that you picked colleges in Connecticut and Minnesota made sense, too.

Ben, when you were young, we painfully stepped on enough stray Lego pieces, and heard you gleefully calculate enough statistics for your many sports teams, from T-ball team on up, to know that you were destined either for a career in sports announcing or for something that used math and science.

In a way, you’re doing both now: watching a 49er or A’s game with you is always educational, and you’re about to finish a graduate degree in mechanical engineering. Living in California now works for you as well—you get to ride your bike year around, stay close to your 49ers, and take quick trips to the snowy Sierras for a skiing fix. Heaven.

We’re proud of where you both are now: you’ve chosen courses of study that make use of your talents and interests; you’ve developed meaningful relationships; and you are actively learning valuable professional and life skills.

It’s hard to always have our lives perfectly balanced between family, friends, learning, work, service, and play, but over a lifetime, we hope that you’ll find the balance you want. Years ago, your medical doctor Aunt Teresa counseled us that every meal you eat doesn’t have to have every food nutrient in it, but you should have all the major food groups over the course of a week. Life is like that, too.

Since you’re both full-time students, formal learning is the dominant force in your lives now. Other parts of your life are on the back burner. Emily, with the intensity of law school, you may feel that the “play” part of your life is on hold, but have faith that play will become a bigger part of your life in a few years. Ben, you’ve managed to keep playing by being part of the Triathlon Club (but can you please explain again how swimming/biking/running until you drop is fun?).

With limited time and money now, traditional “service” may also be on the back burner, but we’re impressed by your commitment to making a difference when you can even now, with your kindnesses to family and friends, Ben’s regular blood donations, Emily’s labor law clinics, and by both being educated voters. You do what you can, with what you have, when you can.

We love watching you shape your lives in ways that work for you and look forward to seeing what’s next. Thank you for continuing to make being parents a joy.

P.S. – Please see part 3 tomorrow.

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