With 2017 coming to a close its time to look back and ask, “Did I get what I wanted out of this year? Did I thrive, did I sail, did it maybe just take everything we had to stay afloat?” You tell me.
I’m always preaching goals to you and though I may sound like a broken record, I only repeat myself because my intention for you is sincere. I want you to live your best life. I want you to dream, find and live every ounce of every genuine desire you have ever wanted for yourself. There is room in this life for you to have as much happiness as you wish.
This is why I love goals. Maybe this is why my 2017 goals got a little wild...
Just like any other year, I set out with a few 2017 goals of my own. Sure, some didn’t make the cut (i.e. getting out of the United States in 2017, but I made it to Arizona…never been there #Winning!) but others were on my mind month after month till I checked them off my list (Build my linked in network to 1,000 in 2017…currently sitting at 1,021).
However, one goal truly fed me this year. That goal was:
“I will meet Fiona the Baby Hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2017 and thank her for being a light in my year.”
I hear giggles, but YES this goal was BIG. It would show complete failure if I couldn’t make it to the Cincinnati Zoo by years end, seeing its only 1 hour and 45 minutes from Columbus. But to truly see its grandeur it will take a year’s journey to really relay the lessons this little Hippo taught me.
Tissues ready? Here we go.
It all starts in November. The day after election day 2016. That night, I couldn’t sleep. I felt like a train had run me down and broken every meaningful part of my body. After a yearlong bombardment of media, news, fake news, and a struggle with human nature in all, I tossed in bed for the last time before getting up. It was just after 4am, way before my usual waking time.
Those of you that know me know I am resilient. I take bumps, I lick my wounds and somehow things always end up better. I couldn’t see how 2017 was going to bounce back from a now pending January inauguration where racism, bigotry, and sexism attacked the foundation of all the things my little yogi mind had come to believe were supposed to be dead or dying out. The core of my reality was shaken.
But what does this have to do with a Hippo you ask?
Here enters Fiona.
On Friday January 20th 2017 the United States of America got a new president, however, on January 24th we were blessed with a tiny distraction. I say tiny because Fiona was born 6 weeks premature at 29 pounds. With my lucky number being 29 and my already unhealthy love for Hippos we were destined to be friends. All previous live hippo births had ranged between 55 and 120 pounds. Fiona was an anomaly. I still joke that she had to come that early to keep the suicide rates down post-election.
From that day on myself and a fan base of hundreds of thousands of people tracked her progress. She made it into my prayers at night where I would pray for her to gain weight, be reunited with her mom and dad and eventually meet her. Month by month each milestone came true. From oxygen tubes and weak muscles to getting into her first kiddy pool; we all watched in amusement but also amazement that her will to live was so strong. Eventually she would learn to climb a ramp to her bigger pool where she learned to hold her breath for longer and longer periods as her weight climbed up and up. Through this time of constant change my boyfriend would brighten my day with a link to a new Fiona story. If I was sad, checking into her Facebook feed at the zoo would remind me to smile.
So when would we meet? Well Fiona did not “go public” till summer to continue her growth and healing. Anyone who knows zoos also knows when kids are out of school your viewing time will be severely limited. How about fall? Well life got busy and as the holidays neared it got harder and harder to get away. Now we wrestled weather conditions that kept the now known Diva out of her public pool. The weather would had to be above 50 degrees, not raining, daylight hours and of course trying to time when school would be in session…The logistics grew harder as December in Ohio approached.
Monday December 4th became the day.
Google told us it would be near 60, no rain and no kids…
#SorryNotSorry Boss, taking a half day .
The stars had aligned and we headed to Cincy!
“I want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” flowed from the speakers as we made the drive. A smile on my face I couldn’t contain nor did I want to. With little traffic through the Africa exhibits, I tried not to get my hopes up too high but…we were so close. I’ve heard her compared to Beyonce, yes I was that nervous!
Of course as we came around the bend there was a crowd of Fiona fans. However, within seconds of being there space opened up. I approached the glass and Miss Fiona swam right up.
I lost my breath. I may have cried…
The next half hour continued with her gracefully playing hostess with the mostess as she and her mom Bibi cruised their pool saying, “Hi” to everyone who had come to see them. Never had I seen such a gracious host. I noticed babies in strollers, toddlers, all the way up to the elderly. Every person there had a smile on their face. Fiona had fueled a spark that we had all traveled to see.
As we moved down to the end of the exhibit to leave it seemed perfect timing with Fiona looking like she may get out of the pool and be done for the day. However, she turned around and swam right to me. She came to the glass with her seemingly smiling face to twirl and dance like a grand finale. I mentally sent her my intentions, my love and my respect for her as my teacher. It was the perfect end, to a perfect day.
She has taught all of us a lesson in resilience, love and joy. This is all I wish for you, Happy holidays.