My oldest friend in the world checked in on me for my birthday. We were neighbors when we were born in the tiny farm town of Mendota, CA and she’s four months younger than me. We have laugh until you cry memories together that created the happiest times of my childhood and no matter the time that passes or the miles between us my heart swells at the thought of those days. At the end of our exchange she asked, how did we get to be 45? …even though she’s not quite there yet. That simple question made the movie run in my head…jumping into backyard swimming pools, not telling my mom my ear hurt so I could keep swimming, and then dying of the worst ear ache at 2am, feeling scared to death of fireworks on the 4th of July (told you I was timid), pulling onto the freeway after my high school graduation and feeling the freedom that I knew was mine to have. But since these years that seemed to pass so slowly at the time, time seems to have a fast forward button and the last 20 years feel like five minutes. Kids went from diapers to college in the blink of an eye. Time is universal, but as the years go on, it seems to pass infinitely faster. The good thing about this realization is that there are ways to use this precious commodity to find alignment in our days, make the most of these incredibly fast minutes that pass, and make the time we spend more reflective of the people we that we are always becoming.
Get clear on how you want to spend your time. It may seem that the older we get there are rules and parameters on how we are “supposed to” spend our time, but those rules are self imposed. Sometimes it takes courage and sacrifice, but we are the designer of our days and how we live is up to us. It may feel like someone is trying to tell you what it should look like or how it’s supposed to be for you, but it’s not your job to listen to all of that. Self awareness is the gift that gives us clarity and confidence in our choices and is the key to making ourselves happy. Are you happiest when you are around people or do you crave quiet time away from the crowd? How do you like to create? Is it through a pen, words, movement, or connection with others? If time is going to pass this quickly, age has taught me that I don’t want to waste one minute living outside my purpose. When we are clear on that, we don’t have to feel guilty for saying no to things that don’t fall within that vision because living “on purpose” is not just for ourselves. When we live in alignment, we are contributing to the world with our highest calling and everyone is better off for that choice.
Every choice matters. Choices are the stepping stones on our path and we choose where that path will lead. Our choices either build or chip away at the confidence we have in ourselves. If there is something you want to do, make sure that the small choices you make each day are aligned with that bigger goal. If they aren’t, you will be left feeling aimless and frustrated. Without self awareness, choices feel arbitrary, but they never are. Over time, if we mindlessly wander, or make choices based solely on conformity to a path that doesn’t honor our uniqueness, we wake up one day wondering how our life got “off track”or how we “lost ourselves”. The optimist in me says we are never off track, but just being given the opportunity to know ourselves a little better and get smarter as we start to make the choices that put us on the meaningful path that was meant for our feet.
Know that the only thing you have control over is yourself. Over the years, we can take some wrong turns, that’s just life, that put us in some precarious situations that we have to find our way through. Even with our own resilience and grace, sometimes it takes another hand and wise words to pull us through (that’s where that connection comes in). Know yourself well enough to know when you need to take that hand, and who’s hand to take. Relationships can drift away from a healthy path, the circumstances of the job that we worked so hard to learn can change, children grow up and don’t need us in the capacity that we built a life around for so many years. Without keeping an eagle eye on our own path, It’s easy to spend time and energy thinking about and trying to control how other people and situations affect us, how their choices could make our life different, or even better. But that isn’t how we are connected. We are all free to make our own choices, our job is to surround ourselves with the community whose choices vibe with our own, and not let one ounce of our energy go into taking away another human’s free will. Their choices are how they learn too. It takes courage to live freely and let others do the same, but it trains our minds and bodies to seek what is unique to ourselves and not expect other people to create our happiness for us. When we are young, we are begging for that autonomy that is ours as adults. How will you honor the gift you have been given?
What I have felt this week, as I celebrated another year on this earth, is that this phenomenon of time passing quickly is meant to create clarity and purpose. We have all been blessed with gifts and talents. Figuring out how to use them to their fullest, and who to share them with, is the prescription for a happy life. If you are feeling stuck for any reason, don’t be hard on yourself, look for that helping hand and take it. I’m grateful this week for the love and connection that another year around the sun brought me and the reminder that there is always a hand too hold, if we aren’t afraid to reach for it.