Sunday, July 21, 2013

Life at 44

Today is my 44th birthday. I am not afraid or ashamed of my age. After all, it's the cumulation of my experiences and a testament to the lessons life has taught me. I am blessed by life's challenges; they have taught me the value of  love and laughter.  I am blessed to have a chronic illness; it has taught me so much about who I am. I am blessed to struggle with chronic pain; it has taught me what I am capable of handling.  I am blessed to be madly in love; it's taught me to be a kinder person. Life and all the pain it brings is such a beautiful thing; we are blessed to share it with each other.

When I was 11 I was healthy, happy and waiting an hour seemed like waiting a lifetime. I was doe eyed, fearlessly adventurous, fiercely stubborn and wildly independent. I thoroughly enjoyed making my big sister get in trouble with the parents and I wasn't at all concerned about getting in to trouble myself. My theory for being in trouble was that my parents weren't going to kill me (let's face it, if they were the killing type I'd already be dead) and any punishment they give me could only last 7 years because once I turn 18 I was free. I would tell my 11 year old self to never lose that sense of fierce independence, it will serve you well later in life.  I would encourage to stay focused in school and save the rest of the nonsense for later. I would also remind myself to be kinder to my parents.  They're good people and deserve to have polite children, they got you instead so be thankful they are very tolerant.

I think I was 9 instead of 11 but it's a classic pic!

When I was 22 I was a young mother, a young travel agent, and a young divorcee. Not where I had hoped to be but suddenly I saw the world through my son's eyes. It was a wonderful mystical world full of fanciful things, wonderful people, extraordinary delights and a lot of hard work. I was beginning to realize that their are great rewards for a job well done.  Soon, the world will be yours for the taking, enjoy it. Your job will take you to magical places, live life loud and never look back. I would tell my 22 year old self to enjoy the delight of your son for soon he will be a grown man as time passes all too quickly. Thrive in this moment for you can never repeat it. Remember, there is still so much you have yet to experience, so much you have yet to learn. Embrace all that the world has to offer. It's amazing, it's beautiful and it's cruel. Allow that cruelty to spur you onto bigger and better things. Allow it to burn within you so that you will fight harder for the things that are important to you.

My son, Brendon, and I in 1992

When I was 33 I was managing and growing a successful travel agency on a military installation, raising a very bright young man, traveling a lot and escorting groups on cruises. Life was happy, full, busy and beautiful. I was still living life on my terms. Still plodding through life clueless as to who I truly was or what true happiness looked like. I was going through the motions and doing what I thought I should be doing to create this illusion of a happy life. I did all the things that should have made me happy. I didn't even realize just how conflicted I was inside. I would tell my 33 year old self to enjoy the freedom that currently exists. Would I tell myself that I would soon be diagnosed with a life altering diagnosis? I don't know. The journey to the depths of my soul was so raw, so difficult and so beautiful. I would remind myself to continue to look for the beauty because it's there.  It's right there within you. This is just an adjustment, just a bump in the road or a hitch in your giddy up. You will understand more, live more, feel more and be more in the next few years than you ever imagined possible. Buckle your seat belt. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.

2003 in San Antonio, Texas

Now I am 44 I am newly married to a good man with two beautiful daughters, working part time for the YMCA, focusing on my health full time, blogging for fun, living life more passionately and, hopefully, inspiring others. Life is nothing like I expected it to be but it's so much more. It's wonderfully, beautifully, messily, crazily, amazingly, disastrously more than I ever dreamed was possible. I'm not afraid of who I am or what's to come. I know that if I leave tomorrow that my loved ones will know who I truly am and they will be thankful to have known me. My passion for life will live on beyond me. I am telling my 44 year old self to buckle your seat belt, the ride still isn't over. The ride may still get very bumpy, so remaining positive is so very important. Living a life full of love and faith is the only defense for the fear of the unknown. Face whatever lies ahead bravely and never lose focus of all the love and happiness that surrounds you.  In so many ways it feels like I have already lived a lifetime but on the other hand it feels like I have just begun. Every moment is the start of a new journey. Enjoy it!

2013 with Boyet at Oklahoma Redhawks baseball game

We should never ask, "Why me?" Instead, we should ask, "What do I possess that makes me capable of handling this situation?" Once we stop looking for the why  and start looking for the blessings the truth begins to expose itself.