“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” - William Shakespeare
Birthdays are a time of reflection and celebration, and with another year of experimenting behind me, I reflect on and celebrate some key lessons of the past 12 months. (I was considering doing a lesson for each of my years, but that list would have been way too long. You are welcome!)
Here’s my list in no particular order:
- Be detached to outcome – I remind myself often to let go of what I believe to be the best outcome and to focus instead on the journey. The path is the prize. What we label as bad may just turn out to be the best thing that could have happened in the larger scheme of things. I could have never imagined what seemed to be a dire situation leading me to the life I have now. I also know that I needed to have every experience in my life to get me to exactly where I am now. This reassures me that there is a higher power at play. I let go and just be!
- Know thy values – by knowing what is important to me and being in synch with that, life becomes effortless. It is easy to make the right decisions when I know what matters most.
- Have a vision – what do I want to experience and contribute to the world? In what ways do I want to grow? Starting with the end in mind allows me to take steps towards that vision each day. As the saying goes, no wind blows in the favor of a ship without direction.
- Embrace all my parts – we all have many parts that make up the whole. I have a very serious side which always wants to be productive and on the go, a playful side which wants to be spontaneous and try new things, a wise side which is connected to the big picture, plus a few others I am yet to discover. I am learning to embrace the gifts of all of these parts without allowing one to be in control or choke the others. For years, the serious side was the chairman of the board and on 24/7 duty – straight A’s in school, stellar reviews at work, the perfect image – with no room for error. He’s worked hard but now it’s time for him to relax and be an equal advisor on the board. Woo hoo! (Yep! That was the playful side jumping up and down!)
- Follow my heart – with all the influences and opinions around, my inner voice can sometimes fade into the background. However, I have found that listening to my heart and doing what’s best for me always leads me down the right path.
- Surround myself with like-minded people – connection is one of my top values and community has been so important. Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt like you have known them forever? Those are the kinds of people I make an effort to surround myself with because they inspire me to be my best.
- Ground myself – I start my day with a spiritual practice (meditation, spiritual reading, journaling, and yoga). I have been doing this consistently for over a year now and it has been one of the best practices I have incorporated into my life. This allows me to consciously set the tone of my day and because of that, I make it priority # 1.
- Ask: what is the lesson in this? – every situation or encounter is here to teach us a lesson. I believe if we do not learn, the pattern will repeat until we do. What can I learn from this situation? By asking the question, I am able to quickly learn and move past challenges, which become teachable moments that contribute to my growth.
- Breathe – my breath is one of the greatest gifts I have and bringing my attention back to it regularly is the best way to anchor myself in the present moment. This is where the action is.
- Practice gratitude – by being grateful for what I have, I know that I am in abundance. I keep a gratitude journal and list at least 5 things each day that I am thankful for. This allows me to notice what is right with the world and me – considering that I have filled up over one hundred pages, there is A LOT to be thankful for.
- Fear is a compass not a roadblock – we are more afraid of fear than the action that is causing us fear. Fear is a sensation in my body that tells me that I am human and alive. Two questions I ask when fear comes up: 1) am I going to regret not doing this? If the answer is yes, then I must do it and 2) what is the worst that could happen? If I could handle it, then I have to go for it. I’ve also found that the worst case scenario is usually the status quo. In that case, what have I got to lose?
- I am not my thoughts – one of the most liberating feelings is knowing that I don’t have to believe my thoughts. I am not my thoughts; I am the observer of my thoughts. This keeps me open to possibilities and allows me the freedom to choose my thoughts and change my mind . It’s truly a gift.
- The power of choice is always available to me – instead of instantly reacting to triggers in the conditioned way, I can take a step back, notice what is going on, and choose a more conscious and empowered response. What a revolutionary concept! Thanks be to Brené Brown for driving this one home for me.
- Be kind to myself – though there is room to improve in this area, I have become much more open to experimenting, messing up, and learning from my mistakes. That is how I evolve. I love when I am growing and sharing my gifts, even when it proves that I am not perfect. In fact, honoring my imperfection gives me permission to fail forward and be vulnerable. There are also days when all the lessons go out the window and I revert. I am human, and that is worth celebrating!
- Life is short, enjoy it – why wait for retirement to enjoy life? I try to make the best of my time for it is my most precious resource. I break the rules, forget convention, laugh a lot, and seek out the company of those who make me happy. I do life my way!
Thank you for allowing me to share these lessons and for being a part of my journey. My birthday wish is for you to live a fully expressed life using all your gifts. In one hundred years, we will all most likely be a distant memory. Now that we are here, let’s make it count!
Here’s to another year of valuable lessons and growth!! I look forward to sharing it with you!
With love and best wishes always,
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