never stops teaching.
Journaling for awareness. Growing for life.
Remember your 20s? Or maybe you’re still in that incredible time of life. It astounds me how good I had it in my 20s and how I didn’t realize it. I think that is partially what the 20s is supposed to be about—relatively carefree (comparatively speaking) exploration of Self and world. Sure, I had responsibilities and major decisions to make. I had problems. But life gets deeper quickly. Here I am, smack in the middle of my 30s, and I have a greater appreciation for, well… everything.
This morning, a friend of mine shared with me her recent health diagnosis. I was stunned by the severity of her situation, and I’m not sure I managed to comfort her. I listened and found myself saying over and over, “We’ll get through it.” We hugged in the parking lot for a long moment—the kind of hug that seems to broaden your heart capacity. But I felt helpless as I left to get the boys from school. And when I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror as I backed out of the school lot, I hardly recognized myself—the puffy eyes, the concern painted with fine lines across my forehead.
Life is shifting, widening, exposing more beauty and more challenges all the time. In the last year alone, I have sat with friends through the death of a parent, breast cancer, skin cancer, AND a child’s cancer. Yes, life gets deeper quickly.
When I sat down with Keegan after lunch, he snuggled next to me. He’d been a little “off” that morning, and I think we both needed the cuddle time. We were quiet there together. Then after a few minutes he looked up at me and smiled. “Look at you,” he said.
“What about me?” I was trying to imagine what he saw. Those dark circles under my eyes?
“Just look at you,” he said again.
“But I can’t see me, Keegan.” Logical, right? But then I heard it. I can’t see me. We can’t see in ourselves what others see. Not completely.
“Try! Give it a go.” He was giggling.
I stretched out my face and looked down my nose, pretending to try to look at myself.
By then Keegan’s giggles were contagious, and I was laughing too. “Mama, just look at you. You’re so cute!”
Thank God for five-year-olds!
When I called my friend later to check on her, her voice sounded relatively upbeat. She’d even found her sense of humor. “Hey, just think of all the casseroles I’ll get after surgery,” she said.
“Well, this is one way to get out of cooking,” I played along. “And you’ll finally get that rest you’ve been longing for!”
“Very cute,” she groaned, and then the two of us laughed until we cried.
When I’d finally caught my breath, the words that came singing out were those of a five-year-old: “Just look at you!”
“Oh, if you could see me,” she threatened through the phone, both laughter and tears still in her voice.
“You’re magnificent!” I told her.
As I get older, I find nearly everyone around me is getting stronger. And with that, more beautiful. In the middle of stress or fatigue there is still a whole lot of “cute” to be found. The kind that runs deep and has you smiling from your eyes, deepening those little lines that spread out like rays of sunshine. The kind of cute that opens the mind to new delights, where child-like joy can be found in the middle of an otherwise complicated day. Yes, here in the second act of my life, the world is deepening. It may be complicated at times, but it’s profoundly meaningful. And rumor has it that it only gets better!
Perhaps we can’t see ourselves completely. But we can act as mirrors for one another. We can remind each other of just what we are capable. When you look at yourself, what do you see? And doesn’t that matter in how you manage your day-to-day life? Are you able to accept the compliment because you feel it to be true? Are you able to rise to the occasion because you can see your courage and weather the storm because you are aware of your own extraordinary ability to persevere? Because what we believe about ourselves changes the paths we forge. In the story of my life, so much of what I have come to believe about myself has stemmed from raising my kids. I suppose children can offer us beautiful reflections of who we are, because they do not yet have judgments in place, no insecurities yet present to cloud their vision. They speak the truth and teach us about our own truth. Have you ever had a child look at you with total gratitude and in an instant been reminded of your self worth? Or has a child ever ever pushed you beyond what you knew yourself to be capable of and had you surprising yourself? Maybe there is a little one who can light you up with a single hug or giggle, because there is no purer love in this world. Who are your mirrors?
Everyone has a story. I’d love to hear yours and be inspired by yet another incredible individual forging great paths. Wouldn’t it be great if we could each see how uniquely magnificent we are and celebrate it?! Let’s give it a go.