What 38 Taught Me
On the evening of November 28, 2006, I laid in a hospital bed with our new baby girl in my arms and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace in knowing that our family was now complete. As I looked down at this miracle sleeping in my arms, I realized that in ten years' time I would be 38 and at that moment I was filled with the oddest and most amazing sensation that 38 would be a tremendous year for me; a year full of great change.
It wasn’t until August of 2016, on my birthday, that I shared how excited I was to be turning 38. I could no longer contain my excitement; I was literally glowing with anticipation for what this year would bring.
I had recently spent months preparing an application for what I thought was my dream job. In all of the excitement of turning 38, I found myself imagining that I had been selected to move forward in the application process. I began envisioning how my life was going to change. I was on cloud nine all day, beaming with excitement and anticipation.
Almost one week after my birthday I learned that I would not be moving forward in the application process. My heart broke and I mourned for the life I had started planning. Within a month of my birthday, I was hit with the reality that my marriage was falling apart. My life as I knew it felt as though it had shattered and I wasn’t sure how to fix it.
Nearly three months after my birthday, my mom was hospitalized while traveling with a friend. She and I have a strained relationship, but given that I was the only one of my siblings who had the means and ability to intervene, I found myself on a plane flying to Kentucky where I would spend two days waiting for my mom to be discharged before driving her back to her home in Texas. It was a stressful time that left me feeling empty and incapable of love.
By Halloween, I felt defeated and uncertain about my place in this world. I was struggling to understand how this was supposed to be my year of great change and I quite honestly gave up on the idea.
It is now August of 2017, I’ve recently turned 39 and to say that my 38th year was huge doesn’t begin to describe what a life changing year it was.
The setbacks and struggles I faced in those first few months of turning 38 broke my spirit and made me question everything. In doing so, I returned my focus on the activities which I have known to bring me the greatest sense of peace and balance … tai chi, acupuncture, meditation, and prayer.
I can’t pinpoint the exact day that my mindset shifted from self-pity and doubt to feeling inspired, grounded, and capable, but by January I had discovered a publisher who was interested in publishing my book and I successfully founded a nonprofit called The Lotus Project.
My 38th year has been full of highs and lows, all of which have helped shape me into the person I am. I have been blessed by the challenging moments which have provided me with freedom, wisdom, opportunity, and the reminder that I’m never facing these hardships alone.
In this year I have been
Excited for unknown possibilities
Crushed by unexpected disappointments
Challenged by strained relationships
Lifted up by unexpected acts of kindness
Surprised and invigorated by conversations with family, friends, and strangers
Stressed by trying to do it all
Honored to work on my passion with others
Encouraged by many
Inspired by the works of others
Overwhelmed by the workload
Grateful for the support
Humbled by the outpouring of sentimental responses to the work I’m doing
Saddened by the loss of loved ones
Loved by those who help me to constantly strive to be more
In the week leading up to my 39th birthday I had time to reflect on my 38th year of life and this is what I realized. My life is far from perfect, and at the same time it is as close to perfect as any life can be. I say this because I’ve learned that the best way to achieve happiness is to participate in activities which bring me joy while at the same time challenge me.
Obtaining my dream job has required me to put myself out there, to take risks and to be vulnerable. I had to recognize and accept that the job I felt determined to do wasn’t the job I was destined to do. I had to allow my ego to be bruised in order for it to heal so I could move on to do even greater things than I could have ever imagined.
Truly understanding that marriage is more than just two people simply living happily ever after. Marriage is about choosing to love someone even when they make a mistake. Beyond love, marriage requires patience, kindness, forgiveness, and a sense of humor. Marriage isn’t easy, but I can’t imagine trying to make it through this life alone or with anyone other than the man I chose to marry. Growing old with one person might not sound exciting and glamorous, but as I get older, I care less about glamour and more about the safety and security that comes from knowing that this person loves me and that we have chosen to continue to love each other even through our worst times.
Being a parent is probably the perfect example of what I mean. I cannot imagine any job being more difficult than that of being a mom and at the same time, I can’t imagine any greater joy than watching my daughters develop into the wonderful young ladies they are becoming.
Life is all about finding the balance and not giving up just because it feels too difficult. In fact, it is in those difficult moments that I try to pause and recognize that something truly great must be waiting ahead.
Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic
It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
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Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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