Today, June, 24, 2012, I have reached a huge milestone in my life. It is the day that some people will say I am now “over the hill.” For me, it is the most significant day of reflection, gratitude, and peace I have embraced.
It is my 40th birthday.
As I look back on my life these past 40 years, I can see so many things that have brought to where I am today. Take a small journey with me through each decade, won’t you?
1972 – 1982
From zero to ten, I was an ordinary little girl. From my mother’s perspective, I was her “dream come true.” Known by relatives as a ‘tahitian beauty’, I was vastly different in looks and personality than what was expected. I was painfully shy on the outside, yet strong-willed on the inside. I obeyed my parents at every command; and, I embraced a genuine love for God and for church at the age of 5. I was a good girl, and I was proud of it. I don’t have many memories of this decade, except for the few routine events that shaped my early years: going to school, watching Saturday morning cartoons, playing outside, going to the beach almost every Sunday afternoon, and going to churchy events so I could see my friends. I learned to play the piano in this decade, and most of my spare time was behind the keyboard. There weren’t any lavish family vacations (except to go see extended family), and I loved becoming a pen pal to anyone who would send me a reply by mail. Secretly, I longed for something more, but I wasn’t sure what that “something” was… not yet, anyway.
1982 – 1992
Ah, the decade of adolescence and growth into a young adult. Wow, these were turbulent years for me, as I can imagine that most young adults experience. But, the turbulence was silent, inward, and kept to a minimum on purpose. I wanted so badly to please my parents, please my friends, please God, well, please everyone! I did my best in school, but it wasn’t good enough for scholarships. I did my best in my friendships, and I manage to retain some kindred spirits. And, I always tried to please God, because I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I hadn’t learned the difference yet between “right doing” and right being.” Yes, there is a difference.
I also discovered in this decade that love hurts. From losing a first love in a breakup, to having several close family members die, love does hurt. I didn’t quite learn yet that there was no one to blame for this hurt, but as the old saying goes, “time heals old wounds.”
Perhaps the greatest significance in this decade has been the experience of travel. I didn’t travel far, but I traveled enough to know that I didn’t want to stay in one spot for the rest of my life. From the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona, to the barrios of Ensenada, Mexico, and across the continent to countryside of North Carolina, I discovered a big world out there that held so many niches for a restless soul searching for that “something.” Still, my time had not come to fruition for contentedness.
1992 – 2002
The 20-somethings was a roller coaster ride of change, even more than my silent turbulent adolescent years. This decade brought upon so many life-altering events, but each one has its own place for significance. From the death of my earthly father, to early marriage and motherhood, and finally an uproot from California to Arizona, I felt like life was a whirlwind that didn’t know how to slow down. I couldn’t find the eye in the storm. This was such a time of dreams ending, dreams revealed, and dreams hopeful. The fairy tale that plays in every little girl’s imagination comes to a dead end in this decade. Reality bites. Reality stings. But, reality is real. Not that I am sad, though, for reality keeps one’s feet on the ground, and points to a future that is shaped by wisdom and knowledge attained.
At first I couldn’t embrace the word “thirty.” I felt like my tongue had formed a lisp, and it was twisting the word “twenty” into “thirty” by accident. It turns out that the 30s have been a second whirlwind of change, but this time I had a little more knowledge, a little more wisdom, and a lot less fairy tale imagination! Returning to college in my 30s was probably the most significant event of this decade. It was also a lot more fun and motivating to earn those As because I was completing a goal, rather than pleasing my parents (or society). This was the decade of learning the ups of downs of marriage, of parenthood, of finances, and yes, even health. This was the decade when I realized that life was flashing by at the speed of light, and if I didn’t awaken to the reality of health promotion (aka disease prevention), then the rest of my life could be cut short very quickly.
The 30s has been considered a second “wiggly” round of young adulthood, in my opinion. The first “wiggly” time was the teen years that melted into the roaring twenties. This decade has proven more of wrestling with oneself in that you know who you are and where you have been, but you are now asking, “where am I going?” “Am I doing the right thing with my life?” “Will this decision to do such-and-such help me or hinder me?”
2012 – 2022
Well, the history books haven’t been written yet for this decade. But, as I look back on reflection of four decades, I can see God’s hand in guiding me, and His footprints as he walked beside me. I may not have chosen the path that I walked, yet that “something” I was looking for has been found. It is called Intention, and it is the one thing that propels a human being toward a satisfied, fulfilled life. I have learned that money will come and go (mostly be gone when you have children); I have learned that love will come and go (for love is a choice, not a feeling); and I have learned that true success is not how much money or love you can acquire. True success is the significance that you have made in your life and in the lives that you touch. True success is driven by Intention. And, Intention is the fire that burns the soul with passion for living.
This will be the decade where I will start to reach new goals for living the next 40 years. Whether it’s doing things on my bucket list, or just continuing to learn how to be content in the moment, I am choosing to be proactive.
My challenge to you: choose Intention, choose Passion, choose Gratitude, choose Living!