I tend to reflect quite a bit on birthdays. Most years, I get a bit of the “birthday blues”. I get that feeling that I’m not doing “enough” for my age, I am not where I wanted to be at this age, not accomplishing what I expected.
This year was different. In a very good way. I reflected on how far I’ve come and how I didn’t expect to be where I am today. I thought I’d share my thoughts with you and hope they resonate.
A little background: I was diagnosed with a rare cancer at 16. I didn’t think I’d see 21, much less 41.
Birthdays get me thinking & I’ve been thinking recently about the gift of life. Why some end too soon. Why some are filled with hardship. Why some people overcome & others succumb. Why we make the decisions we do and the fact that not one person on earth shares your life experience.
I thought about sharing my life story but while writing about the bumps in the road, I kept coming back to something my therapist noticed about me recently: I am a lifelong explorer.
I am where I am now because of my past. When I look back, I see hardships & triumphs. I see times my map led me astray. I see myself getting angry at the map & other times being grateful for it. I see people who sparked a flame under me & so many kind & beautiful people who helped (and are helping) me find my way.
As an explorer, I’m always looking for a new road and there are a couple things I wanted to share that have helped me find better, safer, smoother roads (with quotes 😉):
1️⃣ A gratitude practice is as essential as breath.
“How we see determines what we see.”
– Diana Christinson (and maybe someone else too?)
2️⃣ Listen more.
“We think we listen, but very rarely do we really listen with real understanding, true empathy. But listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.”
– Carl Rogers
3️⃣ Kindness matters.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
4️⃣ Look for connection.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from that relationship.”
– Brene Brown
5️⃣ Independence is overrated.
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”
– Helen Keller
6️⃣ Be Present.
“How we spend our days is of course, how we spend our lives.”
– Annie Dillard
I know I want to spend the next 41+ years exploring humanity, the world (please, world open again!), and living my days well.