Tomorrow I’ll be turning 28, and -- as birthdays inevitably do -- the occasion has me thinking about where I am in my life right now compared to years before.
I’m unbelievably happy and grateful to say that this year may go down as my best year (really OUR best year) yet. I think it’s a combination of getting older (and wiser) in general, and growing more fully into ourselves, our values and our relationship.
But, there are also definitely some external factors that have made this year especially memorable. This year we paid off our debt so we don’t have that financial burden hovering over us anymore. This is our first year out in California living on our own, and we love the condo we found just two blocks from the ocean. We’ve been able to plan a few fun trips throughout the year, and now I’m just a few weeks away from releasing my favorite offering to date (more on that below!!)
BUT... I promise I’m not here to just drop into your inbox and tell you how great my life is going. That’s not what I want this week’s letter to be about AT ALL.
Instead, what I want to do is point out that things most certainly did not always feel this way.
Yes, I feel I’ve arrived at a place where I’m sinking more and more into contentment every day, but I didn’t arrive here without some challenges along the way.
I haven’t forgotten the back to back months I worked 12 hour days trying to get Made Vibrant off the ground, wondering where my next client was going to come from. I haven’t forgotten the days when I dreaded the idea of logging into my bank account to see another overdraft fee charged or another credit card minimum that made my jaw drop. Days when I laid in bed at night trying to breathe through a panic attack because the pressure of being fully responsible for my own income was just too much to bear.
No part of me is afraid to admit there were dark days and sad days and tough days and days I thought seriously that I didn’t have what it takes to make my dreams come true. (Maybe some of you reading this now can relate to those kind of days.)
But, this week, as I contemplate what my 27th year brought me and how it feels to have climbed out of those dark days bit by bit, I find myself wondering what I would possibly say to my former self during those tough times. I wonder what advice would seem appropriate now with the massive advantage of experiencing my own future.
What I would say is this:
Learn how to love the chapter you’re in.
My life (and your life) is a book that is still being written. Yes, maybe it’s a cheesy analogy that belongs on a greeting card, but I heard this once and the image has always stuck with me.
It reminds me that we are all the protagonists in our own adventure story, and EVEN BETTER, we’re also the authors of that story. We actually have the power to create and manifest what happens to ourselves as the main characters.
And, like all stories worth telling, the protagonist doesn’t just magically prevail without encountering a little bit of adversity along the way. He or she does not arrive at their happiest destination overnight.
Because adversity provides context to triumph.
Just like rain gives context to sunshine. We aren’t able to fully appreciate where we arrive without comparing it to what we went through to get there.
So when I say learn to love the “chapter” you’re in, I mean that I wish I could go back and tell myself three years ago to zoom out just a bit and acknowledge the WHOLE of the story I was living. I’d remind myself that the chapter of that moment was just one of dozens of plot points on my character’s journey.
The same goes for you right now. You may find yourself in a chapter -- it could be a week or a few months or even the past year - where it all just feels so dang HARD. You’re engaged in what my better half refers to as “the climb”. Unfortunately, the climb never really goes away, so we have to find ways to illuminate the beauty of the climb in spite of how hard it might feel in the moment.
That is what learning to love this chapter is all about.
It’s about finding a way to appreciate your current circumstances for the CONTEXT that it will provide to your future triumphs.
So, this week, your challenge is to learn to see the moment you’re in as a puzzle piece to this greater, more magnificent picture that you can’t yet imagine.
I want you to ask yourself:
- What beauty can I find in this moment?
- What will I take away from this time period when I reach that goal I’m striving toward?
- What are my current challenges here to teach me?
- ow will this moment make me appreciate my future more?
I know it’s not always easy, and I know that some of you out there right now are encountering challenges that I’ll never be able to fully empathize with.
But I hope today’s letter in some small way can act as a letter from your future self reminding you that any hardship you’re experiencing now in this moment -- however big or however small -- isn’t in vain. It’s just one CHAPTER in the amazing story that is your life.
This is the chapter where we learn what your character is made of, how strong you are in the face of adversity or how determined your spirit is to seek out a future beyond your wildest imagination.
And even now in my own amazing days filled with gratitude and fun trips like the one this week, I know that it’s only one chapter. That I have no idea what’s waiting for me just around the bend.
But whether sunshine or rain, I am learning to love every chapter I’m in, knowing that they all contribute just one small part to a bigger, grander story that’s worth telling.
Wishing you all find beauty in this week’s chapter!
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