Well hello there! I can’t believe another year has passed and it’s already time again for my annual birthday post. If you guys have been following along with me for a while, then you know I’ve walked through some pretty challenging trials in the last few years. I wrote this post on my birthday last year, sharing some lessons I had learned while picking up the pieces of my life, and about being challenged by God to start living and dreaming again. And so, this past year will be forever be marked as the year that I not only started to allow myself to dream again, but also the year I started to let hope rise.
To be honest, after existing in survival mode for so long, it was definitely a scary thing to step out and push myself to really start living again. But I wholeheartedly believe that hoping and dreaming are two things essential to finding joy and cultivating a truly beautiful life. What I’ve also found, is that they too, can open the door for more potential hurt, heartache, and disappointment. And let me tell you, that has been a pretty major wrestle for me. So as I’ve been writing this post and thinking about what I wanted to share in this space today, and what I’m taking away from this past year, it would be that despite the hurts and disappointments I’ve encountered, opening myself up again has absolutely been worth it. I’ve grown even stronger in the hard places, learned more about empathy, and maybe most importantly, it’s what has allowed me to push forward, moving closer towards the life I’ve always wanted for myself.
So with that said, in traditional birthday post fashion, here are the lessons I’ve learned that I wanted to share. And in doing so, my hope would be that something in this post would resonate with someone out there who is needing to read these words today.
- Opening your heart is worth the risk. Part of me can’t believe I’m saying this, because if I’m being totally honest, there were a lot of moments this past year where I wished I hadn’t opened myself up again. Wished that I wouldn’t have let romance back in. Wished that I hadn’t been so trusting of new friendships and people in my life. Wished that I wouldn’t have made certain changes in my life that I did. Wished that I hadn’t allowed myself to dream for the things that I wanted that didn’t work out. In fact, there were even times I felt angry at myself for doing so. But as I’ve worked through the hurt that’s come from some of these experiences, I can also look back more objectively and see the incredible lessons and the growth. And I fully believe we don’t get anywhere in life by playing it safe. Because all of these moments, the good and the bad, are propelling us forward, ultimately helping to shape us into better more compassionate people if we let them
- Things don’t happen to us, they happen FOR us. I was recently at an event and heard this phrase and it really struck a chord with me. I think living in grief and trial, it can sometimes feel easy to fall into the role of a victim. But allowing yourself to process and grow through the pain can really create space for us to realize our full potential, and find strength and purpose within ourselves we didn’t know that we had. I have grown in ways that I never would have without the pain and loss I’ve encountered. And I’m proud of that, because it’s made me a much better person. Even though it’s hard and can sometimes feel impossible, the times that feel like they will break us, can actually refine us if we let them.
- Trust your instincts. After walking through so many years of lies and betrayal, getting back in touch with trusting myself has been one of the more challenging journeys for me this past year. And deciphering my fears from my gut instincts has definitely come with a learning curve. But I am finding over and over, if something feels off, it probably is. If we feel like we shouldn’t do something, then we shouldn’t. If someone is giving us a bad vibe, then there is probably a reason. Our bodies have this incredible ability to sense things, especially as women. So when something in your gut feels off, trust that.
- There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. This is my favorite quote by C.S. Lewis. And when I pause to think about it, it really allows the hope to rise up in me. Because isn’t it beautiful to know there are better days ahead? Happy memories we’ve yet to make? And incredible people we’ve yet to meet? Our lives might carry within them a lot of sorrow and hard times, but those will always be beautifully intertwined with so much joy and happiness. I am truly believing the best is yet to come. For all of us.
- Choose JOY. I’ve thought about this so much over the past year, because at the end of the day, our happiness is really up to us. And having joy in our lives is something we can control, a choice we make daily. Now don’t get me wrong, I know this can be incredibly challenging, and there are still many days where I fail to choose joy. But the more aware I’ve become that having joy in my life is a choice I can make, the more intentional I am about pursuing it. Whether it’s saying something nice to myself, reminding myself how blessed I am, or writing down something I’m grateful for, I’ve found recognizing anything positive helps to create this shift. Even if it’s just one thing you can find joy in every day, it’s a starting place.
- You are enough. If you keep up with me on Instagram, then you know that “enough” is my word for the year. In the fall out of losing my marriage to my partner’s sex addiction, it made me question every single thing about me, both physically and personally. The trauma of it all left me feeling completely unworthy, that I was not and am not enough. And with that also came the burdens of fear and shame. As I’ve been working to heal from those things, I think one of the hardest parts has been realizing that I am not alone in those feelings. That we all feel inadequate, or unworthy in some ways. Whether it’s that we feel we are not doing our part, that we aren’t good enough, or pretty enough, or successful enough, or smart enough. We have been conditioned by society to believe these lies and run ourselves ragged trying to be enough, when in fact we already are. Because the truth is, there is no one else like us on the planet. We are all unique with an individual call on our lives. No one else can do what we can do, or be who we are destined to be. We were each beautiful and wonderfully made.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your unwavering encouragement. I am so grateful for all of the messages and comments. I truly think of you all as my friends and am forever grateful. So with that, here’s to a new year, new adventures, new lessons, and most importantly, continued growth towards becoming the person God intended for me to be. Cheers to 38!
Love you all! xoxo