So... my birthday is in a few days.
Nothing like birthdays and back to school to bring life into a special sort of focus... right? I'm turning 46 this week. That's a pretty damned grown up number. And I have to say that I'm proud of this number. I earned this number. I have never felt more alive, more grounded, more at ease, or more loved.
This past year has been a year of enormous growth for me. But I bet it doesn't quite look like what you'd expect.
The biggest lessons that I've learned this year are unexpectedly quiet lessons. Profound, yet subtle.
1. Time passes quickly.
I remember when my daughter was a toddler. She had this curly copper hair and people would stop me constantly to tell me (quite forcefully) how quickly time passes. They'd look at her all swoony and tell me how I needed to relish the time with her. They'd tell me that before I could blink, she'd be all grown up and that I'd look back on those early years with nostalgia. Little did they know that by the time she was three, I felt like I'd been parenting a toddler for about 37.5 years and that I couldn't wait for time to pass quicker. Pulllleeeze let it pass quicker. I just wasn't one of those I-love-babies-types-of-moms. I felt like I'd be the only mother to parent a toddler for 82 years. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to get to the good stuff of parenthood... you know, like the part where they stop tantrumming and start speaking in sentences.
But now, my daughter's about to start her senior year of high school and I'm like, Pulllleeeeze, just let me have one more day where I can just hold her hand and help her walk across the street safely.
I'm not ready for this part of my life. It's hard. And scary. And sad. And exciting.
And I can honestly say, that it's breaking my heart wide open in a way that I didn't expect.
Once I was past the whole toddler-mom thing, the greatest privilege of my life has been to be a mother. It has healed me, and changed me, and grown my heart and my soul more than I can ever express. And I know, now more than ever, that time passes quickly and that toddlers do eventually grow up.
2. Sometimes life is painful.
When you're awake and present and engaged with your life, you'll find out that there's quite a bit of pain and quite a bit of joy. Self-development work doesn't keep the pain away. It helps you breathe through it. It helps you be kinder to people around you. It helps you to be a more compassionate human being. But to be human means to experience all of a human life. The goal isn't to avoid pain, the goal is to be able to see that pain, like all things, will pass.
3. Humans are beautiful.
It's easy to lose perspective if you're only engaging with humanity from social media platforms, or from a screen, or as an avatar, or from inside your car during rush hour. These modalities bring out the worst of us and they make us forget that we are connected. Quite bluntly, we forget to be nice to each other. One of my biggest lessons this year is in seeing the beauty of humanity in large ways and in small ways, in connecting through quiet and personal moments with people. In being in a room with them. Cooking for them. Having coffee with them. When I slow down and I'm present, I find myself endlessly fascinated with the people around me. And for this, I'm so grateful.
4. Dreams come true.
This year has been one long string of bizarre dreams coming true. Now listen... I'm not one of those super faith-y-hope-y kind of people. So the quantity of dreams that have come true for me has actually made me start to question some of my fundamental beliefs. Words like hope and faith have been weirdly entering my vocabulary. It's strange and unfamiliar. And it's not all over-the-top happy-happy-joy-joy. It's not like I'm jumping up and down, it's more like I'm just quietly smiling and saying thank you to the unknown forces that seem to be looking out for me.
5. It's going to be okay.
This is a big one and for most of my life I didn't believe this. My belief was that it had never been okay, so why would the future hold anything else? I had always thought that the only way anything would ever be okay was if I made it okay. As you can imagine, trying to live your life as if you're the one in charge of making everything okay? It's exhausting.
But lately I've been waking up with this unfamiliar feeling of... peace? Love? Groundedness? I've been going to sleep with the same feeling. I feel loved, and safe, and I feel like I belong to my life in a way that is completely unfamiliar, yet whole. And beautiful.
It's like I actually believe that's all going to work out exactly right. Not just for me, but for you too. For all of us.
This basic trust that permeates my days... it's priceless. It's life changing. And if it took 46 years to get there... it is worth every minute of all that it took to get here.