I remember standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking a sea of moving lily pads. The water was dark blue and churning. I wanted to make the leap from the rock to the lily pad without worrying where I landed. Courage, I thought. Muster it up and move your feet from what is stable. Close your eyes, imagine. A different life. A different purpose. Courage is much greater to gather when you feel paralyzed.

Rewind thirty years. Twenty three, married and filled with idealism. A simple girl with a zest for live and authenticity. Wearing those rosy colored glasses. Seeing the good in everyone and everything. Filled with purpose. Longing for knowledge and a good job to grow. Keep moving forward girl.

I can barely recall my thirties. Contrast to my twenties. I experienced real loss. My baby boy was a stillborn at thirty six weeks. Something you never really mend from but keep moving forward girl, you can recover.

Raising two children, working fulltime and managing a household. Not unusual for today’s woman. I never saw myself as just passing through though. I remember thinking to myself this is your life. It’s a good life. Wake up and repeat.

My forties arrived, and I felt as if I were finally strong. My mind was alert. I understood where I had been and was enjoying the maturity I had gained from my life experiences. I continued to work forty plus hours a week, manage the household, run from basketball games to afterschool programs and weekend dinners. Hamster wheel, keep spinning, wake up and repeat.

I woke up one day and realized that the simple girl at twenty three was locked inside and longing to be present. The running, rushing and wake-up repeat cycle did not allow the authentic person to thrive. I recall thinking to myself, what if you begin defining the moments you are working so diligently to obtain. What if they don’t align with your life now? What choice will you make? Keep thinking, wake up and repeat.

Returning from a concert, a friend turned to me and said, “You have a veil of sadness around you.” Through all my smiles, she saw my truth. I was covering pain that existed for a long time. My marriage was in turmoil. I was drowning trying to keep everything managed. I needed a life raft and the water was churning. Hang on, ride the waves and repeat. 

There comes a point where each of us must choose ourselves. I chose me at fifty one. This was the most difficult decision I had ever made. Find courage even when paralyzed. Breathe deep and take a step girl. You can recover.

Three months later, I moved into an apartment with my daughter who was fifteen. I was terrified of what my life would look like, but I chose me. Gather courage, breathe deep and keep taking those steps girl. You can recover.

During the months that followed, there were many setbacks. Family rehabilitation for drugs. Family illness and more loss. Gather more courage, learn to be still and move forward girl. You can recover.

I have discovered along the way, authenticity is a gift. The connection from person to person is unique. People see what they choose to see. We never really know someone until they are ready to expose themselves to be seen. I’ve been floating on those lily pads for two and a half years now. The other side is in view. The water is calmer because I’ve allowed time to make the shift. I have learned to be still. That has been the most difficult practice. I pray for patience. I stop when the wheel is cranking. I look for the light. It’s all around. Wake up, breathe, thank God. Move forward girl. Live. Repeat.