Dear me (at 18),
This sudden trend you've started toward fairly extreme physical endeavors? It's the right path....you have to start it NOW to fit it all in. You won't want to miss a single second of it because health doesn't last forever.
You don't need to know how hard it will be when you lose it or how hard it will be for your kids (who are great, by the way). You just need to know that each step is critical for the next, and you need the strength you're gaining from all of this biking around campus and hiking around Yellowstone in order to be ready for your firefighting gigs. Cause, yep, you do get hired. Not just engine crew, either. You're gonna make a Hot Shot crew your second year. So thank you for getting so strong, just in the nick of time.
Thank you for taking that trip to Tacoma to see your childhood best friend, even though a storm was coming. You'll get cold when the power goes out, and your college friends won't entirely mesh with her college friends, but you will be so glad you got to see her one last time.
On a lighter note, you also need to hang on to all those bike parts for a couple more years. You won't be able to afford your first car until Hot Shots (if I remember right you'll almost be of drinking age by the time you finally get a car....which you will need for Alaska.....which is coming up, but you wouldn't believe me anyway, so you'll just have to see for yourself how that happens.....though you'll come home with a husband and daughter named after the afore-mentioned childhood friend, so thank you, by the way).
Coincidentally, a 'for sale' add for that car runs today; 300,000 miles later, which is making you conflicted and teary eyed, because you worked very hard for that car.
So when you borrow some of the money to buy the car from your boyfriend (a SHORT term loan because you are on your way to a fire out of state and you can't wait for your paycheck to come)--who you met in an EMT course....no, really, you get certified twice, actually---could you PLEASE, please, please photo copy the check when you pay him back!!!! Otherwise, after you are married, he will tease you for so long about having bought you your car that he will honestly forget that you paid him back which will REALLY get your goat.
Just remember, you were warned.
You are right about Montana, and no, you won't find somewhere you want to live more before you settle down. Even Alaska (I know what you're thinking, but you'll see). And your friends are right about Glacier....it really does have "your kind of mountains". I don't know how you found friends that know you so well.
When Washington is the only place you can go to finish your degree, don't worry. You'll make it back to Montana just fine. And the value of the time it will give your grandparents with your daughter is just more than I can write about. Cherish every minute.
As far as the "if-onlies" here are a few things I wish you could do differently this time....but I have to delete them, because none of them are things you really could change or bear the weight of. The funny one on the list, though, you could fix.....don't turn down the offer of a department computer in grad school, just in case (ahem) your daughter spills milk on your lap top while you are downloading data.
You are now 35 (though you had to ask your husband to be sure, even though you just had this conversation last night), your daughter is 12, and her little brother just turned 6 in Las Vegas (long story). You've got 6 chickens, one duck, an awesome rescue dog, and a mountain view.
You don't look old enough to have a twelve year old, so get very used to hearing that. Also get used to hearing that she is "too good" when she is a toddler, and trust your gut when it tells you that they are right....your gut and really good doctors will save her life. It will be the worst year of your life, but she will be OK.
And I think you will, too. Even though you've taken 3 free trips to Hawaii this year, the past two years of your life have been the hardest next to your daughters illness. It's enough for you and I both to know that this will somehow work out and we will both have years and years of love, (health), life, productivity, plenty of critters, and "the right kind" of mountains.
One last thing to know, just in case.....bear spray does work on moose. You won't necessarily learn this the hard way, but you will have lots of reasons to need this information.
This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J
I am also participating in my Bread and Roses Blog