On this day in 1980, I was born. So much has happened in 34 years yet it seems like there’s so much more I haven’t done!
Like go to NYC. I’ve never been. Sal, if you’re reading this, I want to go. Oh and maybe Vegas, Australia, and Spain, and places in Asia, and South America, and California again, and, and, and. Can you tell I didn’t find out I wanted to travel until I entered my 30’s???
Maybe it’s because I’ve been popping out babies and breastfeeding for so long and am just itching to step out of my cage, er I mean house. I’m craving exploration, adventure, and seeing as much of the world I can. There is a piece of me that cringes with regret that I didn’t do this when I was younger, before marriage and kids. At the same time I didn’t have those aspirations when I was in my 20’s. In my twenties it was easy for me to say, “Some day….” to myself.
In my thirty-four years, I’ve made some really wise choices…and some, well, not so wise choices. All from which I learned a great deal. It’s amazing, really…how I’ve not ended up dead in a ditch somewhere…or in jail…or pregnant…oh wait.
Something shifted when I entered my thirties and am still experiencing this life shift. I’m becoming less fearful and more fearless. I’m speaking up. I’m standing out. I’m becoming comfortable in my own skin. I’m figuring out who I am.
It sounds contradictory but I’m also trying to practice the art silence. This is hard for me. I began to find my voice in my mid-twenties and now I’m learning when to most appropriately use use it. I was silent for so long in my youth that once I found my voice I wanted to shout from the rooftops! I found quickly that it’s much like beating someone over the head with a bible. Sometimes it’s not about being right, it’s about doing the right thing and sometimes that is to just shut up.
Life can high extreme highs and extreme lows. I’ve learned that really, really, really horrible shit can happen to you…Life altering, not sure you’ll ever find your way back to your old self, kind of bad shit…and you can somehow manage to keep on a trucking’. You never do find your way back to your old self, though. You sort through the muck and mud and emerge a different version of yourself. I wouldn’t necessarily say better, rather, different.
I’ve learned everyone has a story. Sharing mine is not only therapeutic for me but it also opens the door for other people to share their stories and perhaps make at least someone else not feel so alone in theirs. My husband recently told me I am disarming. He told me that people tend to let their guard down around me. I’m still trying to process what he means and if I really measure up to that compliment (that is a compliment, right?). Another person observed me with a child (not my own) and called me a “Kid Whisperer.” Apparently listening and engaging in people in general is a strength of mine. Who knew?
I crave connection. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain I’ve always known that relationships are the most important and unique part of being human. These intimate connections to people in my life over thirty-four years solidifies this sentiment. People come in and out of everyone’s life over the years. There isn’t often anyone I forget and feel disconnected to even years later.
“She holds the hand that holds her down. She will, rise above.”
Lyrics in songs mean different things to me than they did even ten years ago. Books and stories mean more to me. Reading and listening to poetry, sermons, or speeches resonate with me more now than they ever did.
I soak in what young people tell me, especially my own children. Their thoughts and opinions about life and about me are direct feedback. I need that. They are blunt. I don’t discount anything they say simply because they are children. It is their truth and it shouldn’t be ignored. Children are also the best models for forgiveness. Oh how they show me forgiveness daily. It humbles me.
Children best modeled what forgiveness looks like. There are still many people I need to forgive and let go of the hurts they caused me. My happiness is contingent upon me forgiving them. I struggle with feeling like my happiness is contingent upon them saying sorry. The truth is they probably have no idea how deeply they’ve hurt me and probably never will and I will hold onto this resentment and in the end it ends up harming me. So as much as I would love to hear those two magical words, “I’m sorry” I need to accept that this is unlikely to happen and just be happy. On the flip side I can’t be so arrogant as to think I never hurt anyone and they are feeling the same way about me.
My eyes widen and my heart opens when I listen to people who are 20+ years older than me. When the older generation is willing to be authentic, open, and honest about their life, I listen. I’m not talking about the negativity or the condemning. I can tell when it comes from a place of judgment verses a place of love. It might be a subtle difference but it is definitely different. I’m stealing a line from someone who said to live our lives with “the path of least regret.” That is why I’ve made some seemingly off the wall and unconventional decisions for me and my family. They aren’t random and senseless to me. They are very much intentional.
Intentionality. This is my current mantra; being deliberate and mindful of everything I do. It doesn’t always happen but when it does there are amazing results. I feel the best, I smile more, and I enjoy life more. I never fully understood this until recently. I just thought it was yet another hippie phrase and for those really far out there people. And now here I am trying to apply mindfulness into my life.
And finally acceptance. This one recently burrowed itself into my life to the point I can no longer ignore it. I had an aha! moment recently when talking about a situation I’ve desperately wanted to be different but it just isn’t and hasn’t been for a long time. I tend to lean toward wanting to change something or at least waiting for it to change. I cling to hope. I hold onto what should be and what could but, not what actually is. Acceptance is a hard one for me. I think this will come with more time and maturity.
On my 34th birthday today, I am reveling in the intangibles time teaches. I’m loving this phase in my life. I think back on the past and dream of the future yet not remain in those places. Today I am focusing on the present. That is the best birthday gift I can give myself.