Laura Kelly Photography

Today is my 40th birthday and I am thrilled. Another year is over and a new chapter opens already. When I commence a new decade in my life, on the one hand, I can view it as meaningless because age is just a number. On the other hand, I can view a number as a marker. Uncertainty means that there is always a blank canvas in front of me and this new year will help me to put a frame around it. 

As much as I want to arrange or plan my life year by year, decade by decade, I am shaped by what happens around me, the opportunities I seize, the people I encounter, the places I stay or leave. Moving into my new year, instead of viewing this decade as a chance to start anew, change or improve, I want to see it as a chance to be here.

I know I might not be able to control all events or the outcome of my efforts, but I can put myself in the world and in the center of life and take note of what I learn along the way. 

Other things I learned in the past year are to hold plans lightly but if the time is right to just go for it because it feels right. Buy don’t rent. 🙂 I am not afraid to experiment and change course if it doesn’t feel right. Sometimes, taking action is more important than figuring out the right decision. It is important to stop letting people tell me who I am. I learned to notice when I am caught up with a fantasy. I learned to understand when it is time to say goodbye and how to “celebrate closure” with very good friends. I learned that my head would say, “it was for the best” but my heart would keep me stuck in the past. I don’t want to miss what is here for me now because I am chasing a fantasy. I learned that if I can’t find the job I want, I have to create it and have backup plans always. I don’t wait anymore for someone to hand me an opportunity because I make it myself. I am not ahead and not behind. I am my own measure. 

I learned that I cannot control how people think of me, so I show up as myself without being fake. I learned that people care less about what I do for a living and more about how I make them feel. I see what I have not done yet as a possibility, not a failure. I know now that everything on my list is a possibility and it is exciting to have ideas and things to look forward to. There are always new opportunities. I learned that even if I thought I have no tears left to cry, there are still more. 

I learned that nobody knows what they are doing. I learned that everybody has sleepless nights, dull days, abandoned projects, new projects that seem not to work out and battles with self-doubt. Everybody struggles. Nothing is perfect. I learned to protect my solitude and alone time. My weaknesses are my strength or in Leonard Cohen words, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”. 

With all this in mind, Happy Birthday to me. Off to new adventures.

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