Dearest Zoe,
 After this last year, with all of its constant anxiety and my struggle with my own disappointment in myself, I wasn't sure if I was ever going to feel "whole" again. I guess I really believed, coming out of college, that success in life meant a career--after all, isn't that what women have worked for the past hundreds of years? Teach for America seemed like the perfect place to prove myself, to become this vision of "myself" that I have capitalized upon all these years--until I realized that I've had it all wrong from the start.
Yeah, from the beginning I have tried hard to achieve, worked for awards and recognition, even based my identity upon how many A's I received in high school and college, but ultimately I think that this has just been a backdrop for the fear and insecurity I felt about making this life "matter."
Here's a story: Today I went to meet a friend of a friend in New Hampshire. Her name is Kera and she lives in this little ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere, N.H. She is 27 years old and she's been married to a guy named Jason for seven years now. They have two little kids.
Their house is on a hill with a breath-taking view of Mount Monadnock, and outside her house she has at least a 10 ft. by 10 ft. plot of land dedicated to her garden, a place where she grows tomatoes, green beans, peas, cabbage, kale, sunflowers, celery, beets, radishes, carrots, and a remarkably long list of other things. Kera is tall and lean,  with swept up blonde/brown hair. She was wearing short and a tank top while one of her kids cousins zoomed around the outside dirt path next to the house on a four- wheeler.  She told us that she had just been in the kitchen baking "pies" for a dinner tonight. My friend Liz asked if I could see inside the house, and she graciously let me investigate the inside: a beautiful little New England house with  gorgeous wrought iron antique chairs, little pieces of furniture with chipped white paint that she had picked up at yard sales, and tiny details that made the house feel like the perfect home.  While Kera was baking, she told us that she throws up the front door, chipped and worn with age, so that she can see the mountain when she is inside the house. The door stayed open to the mountain view the entire time we talked.
            Now, this is not to go all "glorified stay at home mom" on you, but Kera, in addition to maintaining the most beautiful little home, also manages to can her own jam, make her own pesto, and even make her own rasberry and blueberry wine in the basement! She is unbelievably intelligent and the most gracious/disciplined mother I've seen.  All of these things that she spends her time "doing", you can tell are things that she absolutely loves.
Kera's son Isaih has had many health problems though. Part of her health conscious, garden-living resulted from the fact that he can no longer eat many foods. Isaaih almost died due to an allergy to a Hepatitis B vaccination that contained aluminum, and now, in addition to struggling with learning problems, he can eat almost nothing--no sugar, no gluten, no meat---but he can eat vegetables! He is her oldest, at seven, and her younger daughter, Bella, is about five years old and has the whitest hair and bluest eyes imaginable. She is albino. While we were there, Isaaih and his sister spent time munching on lettuce leaves they pulled off of the giant heads of lettuce growing in her garden. 
     Meeting this family made me realize that there is no "right" way to do life. Even though there are things that are worthy pursuing--loving others, education, perhaps marriage--none of these actually looks the same for everyone. I was so caught up in being a certain type of person that I think I forgot to just breathe, relax and learn what is truly "me."