Reflection is a good thing. It presents the opportunity to look back at choices we’ve made in the last year, decade…or decadeS as life tumbles on. If you’ve lived a colorful life, the reflections can sometimes be blurry (years 19-23 for me) or painful or empowering. Reflection, as we get older, is remembering a life well lived, in the mud of self-discovery and the pride of embracing what the universe has brought our way. It’s reading a great book of which we are the sole author, protagonist and antagonist.
Sometimes reflections blend years together, like periods of time defined by a pattern of experiences instead of contained within the months of January through December. Those “19-23” years for me were a period of self-indulgence. I spent 31 years being defined by the title of someone’s partner or someone’s mom, a crutch I didn’t realize I had created, until becoming an empty-nester with no choice but to stand in the world alone and decide once and for all who I want to be in the world.
This transition of decades, my reflections have focused on how far I have come in my life. The choices I have made to stand in the shadow of another’s Light. To diminish my power to make room for other’s. To sacrifice what I need to satisfy the needs of someone else. They have all been decisions I own and made from a place of love, my own insecurities, or my own constitution that drives me to want to make everyone happy.
What I have learned along the way is that not everyone respects others’ time or life. Not everyone is self-aware enough to recognize the impact of their actions. I’ve nearly burned out trying to be everywhere and everything for everyone. Thinking the “single mom” challenges would make me look weak if I couldn’t juggle it all, I sat at basketball games working on my laptop, as a colleague called wondering how I could leave the office when “things needed to be done”. I have come home from exhausting my energies supporting other peoples’ challenges and needs to realize I had nothing left for my own child. We all have days when we’re not at our best and can bring unnecessary stress to the people we care about. I am most difficult to be around when ignoring my instincts screaming that life is out of balance…my signal that change needs to happen. I have weathered some of the most consistently difficult, unaware people in my personal and professional life. Along the way I have realized that none of them are responsible for my life, none of them have to own my decisions, and none of them can stop me.
The experiences of my tumultuous years have helped me let go of things I no longer need. Things that no longer feed me in a positive way. We can get stuck in places and relationships that don’t serve us, trying to prove a point, trying to be something we are not meant to be. I am improving at letting go, with love and appreciation, but just letting go. No wallowing. No hesitating. No time for that.
As I reflect another decade mastered, I stand tall. I stand comfortable alone in the world and comfortable in the powerful tribe I have built along the way. I welcome a new phase of life, excited about what lies ahead. I reflect with a heart full of love.
Reflection is good. It can help uncover our Purpose.