Terri Hanson Mead
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Terri Hanson Mead

Road Less Traveled: PYL In-Flight: June 7, 2022

Welcome Back My Progressive Passengers:

Graduation ceremony?

Finn is back! And officially a high school graduate? Why the question mark? Finn finished all their classes in December so was technically a graduate at that point, but then there were the ceremonies. Once you walk across the stage, is it official?

Well, Finn didn’t do that either.

Adam, George and Jillian at the beach in Half Moon Bay

Instead of sitting in the scorching sun for nearly three hours watching and cheering on all the students Finn has not gone to school with for the last two years while they were at Middle College, we took George to the beach.

Finn got strong on their trip and surprised Adam by being able to pick him up

After sitting through the rehearsal on Thursday morning, I overheard Finn saying they were only going to graduation because of me at which point I said hell no! They had to be doing it for them, not me, and after careful consideration, Finn decided that it wasn’t necessary, and we changed plans.

Finn back from NOLS with George

Finn chose their path, not the expected path, which is completely on brand for this amazing human being. And I couldn’t be prouder.

Finn in August 2018

When Finn started high school, they told us they were non-binary and wanted to be called Rei. We learned about they/them pronouns. It was a steep learning curve for us, but eventually we caught up with them.

Finn in August 2020

Two years later when they transferred to the Middle College program, Finn told us they wanted to be called Finley, Finn for short.

We went through another transition as we had to completely let go of a name resembling what we gave them at birth. As Finn led the way, eventually we caught up once again.

Finn with baby George back in March

When Finn told us last year that they wanted to finish high school six months early, I tried to talk them out of it. I was concerned that they would be missing out on all of the senior year activities and regret the decision. Finn persisted and we relented.

Finn off for a three-month NOLS adventure in Wyoming and Utah

I insisted they find something productive to do for the semester. Since Finn won’t turn 18 until August, and we didn’t want to compromise their ability to start college as a freshman (and not a transfer student), the options were limited. Finn found NOLS and ventured off to Wyoming and Utah for three months of outdoor adventures.

The adventures (and diverging paths) continue.

After attempting to book flights for the three of us to move Finn into the dorms at University of Vermont (UVM) in August, we are sending them on their own. Flights and car rental are so expensive, it just doesn’t make sense.

So, Finn will be traveling solo on their 18th birthday to do a partial move into the dorms, and then head out for a 6 day/5 night backpacking trip (with other incoming freshmen) on Vermont’s Long Trail.

There’s no way I would have been ok with this with kid number one, or before Finn went to NOLS, but now, I know they will be fine. While I want to help them set up their dorm room and make sure they are all settled in, Finn doesn’t need me to help them.

Finn and their friend Eli who also finished high school in December

This isn’t what I expected or anticipated (any of this) but it’s where we are at.

Finn and their friend Julia

There’s definitely a sense of loss for me but I’ve learned to embrace the alternate path Finn is on.

It’s not my path. It’s not my journey. I’m along for the ride as a supportive spectator, fan and cheerleader. And piggybank.

I can’t be surprised that my kids have chosen their own paths, often rejecting my suggestions. My journey wasn’t typical so I shouldn’t be surprised by their choices. Silly me.

I continue to learn so much from my kids that make me a better person. This past few months, I’ve learned to be more independent (without guilt). I’m learning to let go of expectations and go more with the flow. I’m working on enjoying the journey, wherever the path may take me.

George may have something to do with this too. Today he is 5 months old and weighs 29 pounds. And yes, he is in a backpack on my back (which he has totally grown out of).

Have you taken the road less traveled?

May you find peace, acceptance, and love today as you navigate being human. And if you are in the US, don’t forget to vote! Our lives depend on it.

With much love and gratitude,


Moment of Zen with George

P.S. Take the controls and be the pilot in your own life. It’s a beautiful day to fly, and you are cleared for takeoff.

Song: Should I Stay or Should I Go by the Clash

Piloting Your Life (the book)
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