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On My Birthday… 51

On my birthday, here are some things I’ve learned and experienced this year – in no particular order…

I sit here feeling grateful that although there are indeed problems in my life, they are not the worst kind of problems and I am incredibly lucky to have the privilege I have in my life. 

Last year, I learned a lot about asking for help, asking for people to give, and leaning into that uncomfortable space – read that process played out here and then the result here. Thankfully, I think I am over that hang up. I like people helping now, I have gotten warm to the idea. I hesitate some but not nearly as much and find myself saying ‘that wasn’t so hard or didn’t feel so uncomfortable as I thought’ more than I ever used to. 

I really love what I do. I haven’t always felt that way. What I did. Who I worked with. Who I worked for. Who worked for me… and I do now. 

  • I get to work with people all over the world.  I learn so much.  About culture, current events, weather, what they think of the US, what matters to them (and how that’s different to what matters here). I love that I get exposed to so much while sitting in my office in Kentucky. This aspect of my work is something I didn’t intentionally seek but feel so fortunate to experience week after week. 
  • My clients are really amazing souls. I don’t work with anyone I don’t instinctively like and I am lucky I can do that. I look forward professionally and personally to my sessions. I genuinely care deeply that my clients are okay and growing and know that they really matter.  
  • I get to hear so many stories about being a human: their vulnerabilities, their questions, their way of living, and it all impacts me greatly. 
  • I am really drawn to people who are ready to improve their lives. Those who are IN IT. Are accountable. Get vulnerable. Put the effort in. To my surprise when I started my first sessions with this expectation, the clients come back, and I’ve shifted my practice to focus on people ready to ‘go there’… I’m so glad I did.  
  • My clients may not realize how much they give to me. With their hearts, their dedication, their insights, their struggles. 
  • I laugh and cry with my clients. I think about them between sessions. They truly matter to me, and what they are experiencing and working towards means a great deal to me.  I feel so grateful that this is my work. 
  • I get to work in cool media spaces, give speeches for impressive people, work for companies I believe in, collaborate with people I respect. 

And… then there’s motherhood… what a wild ride!! I’m not sure I can say anything about that that hasn’t been said before but there is this… it is hard, rewarding, baffling, exhausting and so much fun. Nothing feels better than genuinely liking your kids. Nothing. And I really LIKE my kids. Being a single parent is hard. There is still a lot of judgment about it. A missing out part to it. A ‘did we screw up our kid?’ aspect, but my son’s father and I did it as right as you can do it so I feel like we minimized the negative impact of it as much as possible. Still, it is emotionally and logistically exhausting even though he has graduated from college.

My mother told me that you never stop worrying about your kids and wow is she right. I still worry when he drives away, I can’t sleep well until he comes home, I worry about his dreams, his relationships, his behavior, his career, just about as much as I adore all of these parts of him too and feel excited. Being a solo parent, however, is a completely different animal. It is heart wrenching. The only people I have spoken to who can relate to my experience with my daughter’s father are those who have experienced the death of a spouse… you are truly doing it alone. No help. No one to run ideas by or bounce problems off of. No one to celebrate with. No one who cares the same way that you do. I have friends who are solo parents by choice and that is really, very hard for similar reasons but the added part of solo not by choice is the loss. The expectation differences are impactful and more than I thought they would be. The guilt. The resentment.

I have a lot of capacity for forgiveness but this experience has tested me quite a bit this year. Being an older parent to a younger child is… interesting. So I have a 23 year old and an 8 year old… if you didn’t know that, take that breath in. There are so many FUN things about this.  Seeing them interact despite their developmental and life span differences, seeing how they influence each other and love each other, it’s magical.  Something I didn’t anticipate was the oddness of ‘launching’ one child while being far from launching another. In many ways I am such a better-positioned mother for my daughter. More relaxed.  I know what matters and what doesn’t better than the first time around. I am less anxious in general and have more ability to separate what is me and what is her because of the years I’ve had as a mother already and the years I’ve had to grow more personally. My son didn’t have that kind of mother. A lot of my self worth was based on how he was doing. My daughter doesn’t experience that burden. But… personally it is hard to see the empty nesting posts, to never be able to go out to dinner spontaneously, to have nothing really ever be easy because I have a little one still and because I don’t have a co-parent that is in any way in her life. The weight is ten fold. The guilt, the resentment, the worry, the pressure, the exhaustion, emotionally and logistically, is next level. I don’t say this for sympathy, I made my choices and I own them. I set my path, but still, this is the truth. My truth. I now know to not push things for myself, I know to sit still when I feel jealous or resentful. I know it is okay I am not posting empty nesting vacation videos. I know it is okay I am bone tired at the end of the day and all I have for her is snuggle time because I am talked out from my work. I wrestle with guilt, but this year I learned that guilt is palpable to her and something that doesn’t help either of us. 

I have a ‘secret’ project I am working on and it has tested every inch of me but I also find that rewarding that after all these years of my career there are still edges to find. I look forward to when I can share what it is and my journey within it (which may still be a few years). I love that at 51 I still get to do secret projects. That my career is actually thriving more than ever.  There are times I bemoan that I wasn’t at this place in my career 10 years ago but that doesn’t last too long. I’m here now. I also am working on an art exhibit related to my course REVEALED and book launch this summer, and that has brought a spark to my week that I haven’t had in awhile. I AM BEYOND THRILLED ABOUT IT. It is so important to keep doing things that feel challenging. I learned that too, this year. 

Some people suck sometimes. And it’s okay to think that. About a friend, a stranger, a family member, co-worker…  I am likely the person that sucks sometimes too.

I am grieving more and more some of the decisions that I made in my late 30s and in 40s. People I put my love and energy and focus into… they aren’t in my life in any way now and I didn’t put focus on some people who are still in my life and stayed the course. I neglected parts of my career that would be further along if I did most likely. I get annoyed sometimes by people saying they don’t have any regrets, everything happens for a reason, etc. And I get that but also, sometimes you put your money on the wrong horse and have to pay the price.  And well that stinks (and yes, I know how to see the good in some of those decisions too). I just don’t want to engage in toxic positivity as that doesn’t help any of us either. 

I’ve been writing a book for years. It has changed quite a bit in the past year especially. I thought it was good then heard it wasn’t. I have a new version of it that is about to go to agents and their publishing houses and I am THRILLED with it. The hope is that it comes out this summer. And there is this… I learned writing a book is HARD. H.A.R.D.  A different brand of hard. The kind of book I am writing is hard:

  • To make things in my head concrete for others to understand.
  • To deal with the emotional parts of writing some personal stories – the vulnerable places where I wonder what people will think of me after knowing it, cleaning up the emotional labor dredging up some of it creates.  
  • I work full time and basically take care of two kids solo. It’s a lot. I have three employees that I feel the pressure to make sure I make enough to pay their salaries every month and have enough for me and my kids and business expenses. And still want to have a life, too.. at least a tiny bit.  So where does writing a book come into the 24 hours? 
  • I love writing when it flows from me.  
  • I didn’t know writing a proposal felt so much like writing a book. So writing two books.
  • I forgot how hard it feels when you are told ‘no’ about something you’ve put your heart and soul into and how good it feels when you are told ‘yes.’

Being a child to aging parents is scary. I have both my parents thankfully but they are aging. Changing. And that is hard. I don’t know where the shift happened from ‘let me live my life’ to ‘don’t leave me to live my life alone’… but it did.  I try to soak up every memory, every bit of history, every visit, every phone call I can knowing it won’t last. Some day it will be my turn to lose a parent. And then both. I have so many friends who have lost one or both and it is a hit to the gut. I wonder if I’ve been a good enough daughter. Do they know how much I appreciate what they have done for me? And who they are to me and my kiddos? Did I make enough effort for my kids to really know their grandparents and be influenced by them? The sandwich time of life is here and who knows how I am doing. That really hit me this year. 

The relationship I have with my body is a work in progress. I want that to be done. To be in full acceptance. To love what I am and embrace it all. And there are certainly days I feel that way. But not as often as I would like. I do like the emerging gray hair and fantasize about stopping coloring my hair like several of my friends have and have rocked it. I’m not there yet but may not be too far away. The crepey skin is annoying to me. I don’t like that at all. I didn’t know that was really a thing but it is. I’ve seen some videos of my chest that had me perplexed that was my body. That was an old woman’s décolleté, not mine. Shit. I’ve had pounds creep up on me. Definitely more than I like but I’m also not doing a lot to stop that so that’s on me and… hormones and stress and all that. It is my hair loss that I wasn’t prepared for… at all. I had no idea how much I loved my hair and took it for granted until it started coming out in handfuls. And then all over again. Pretty sure I’ve lost about half my hair volume. A guy friend absentmindedly said ‘your hair is stringy now’ and that still kills me a little bit. I’m trying all the things but its probably too late to get back close to what I had. And I don’t like how much it has hit me. Working on that too. 

I am mad at our government. On so many levels and feel exhausted by the betrayal I feel from so many layers of our leadership.  The world feels sorry for us and I feel sorry for us too. I am so angry about Roe v Wade, racial politics, queer politics, guns, and so much more, and that is overwhelming at times. WTF.

I’ve discovered this year I am proud of who I am.  A surrogate grandmother told me once to ‘live my life so I could walk into any room with my head held high.’ And I can do that. Not because I’ve been perfect (definitely not a way to describe me), but I’ve done a good job and tried hard to clean up the mistakes I have made, and own my shit. PS. that helps in the holding your head up part.

I am proud of my grit through a terrible time in my life. For forgiving people who hurt me and let me down. For asking for forgiveness for those who I hurt. I’m proud of my go-get-it-ness and want more of it in my life.  

I love who I am sexually. Holistically. I’m grateful that has remained steadfast for me. I authentically teach this and live it.  

I have work to do:  I don’t trust easily, a certain sort of personality and interaction still makes me fiery mad, I need a better work-life balance, my work exhausts me and takes away from my personal life and I need that to change, I feel lonelier than I want to, I have more regret than I would like to feel, I feel a bit too hesitant to take risks like I used to. I care too much about criticism from strangers and people who sort of know me. I watch too many tv shows. I don’t answer my phone like I should and emails and some texts get lost in the shuffle of the week even from people I really really want to be in touch with. I don’t always live what I teach people to do.  

My dreams: I really want to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro. Soonish. I am going to do that. I want to do more girls trips. I want to turn off my phone and work-mind a lot more around my kids. I want to read books again. I want to live more consistently in agency. I want the damn tv or radio show. I want the book that comes out to really help people. I want more hair to grow back. I want to feel safe in love again. I want to act freer and less afraid and less held back. I want to embrace all I am and spend time with people who get me and want me and show up authentically to me too. I want to be smart about who gets the most of me-in friendship, in family, in work, in love. 

I want to turn 52 next year and look back at this year knowing that I let myself bloom into new acreage. A new swath of land. Not bemoaning the grounds that failed.  Not feeling wistful for the fields that were incredible. But pleased and proud and fulfilled in the new lands I stewarded.  

Thank you for being in my life, as someone who follows me, is interested in what I do, who loves me for who I am, who knows me deeply or is okay knowing me from afar.  Thank you for letting me know I matter to you. I am celebrating the beauty in my life today and thank you for adding to the beauty in my life. With great beauty comes great challenge, great reflection, great summiting… and I am grateful for all that too. 

Cheers to 51 and watch out 52, I’m coming for ya!

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