May 22nd. It is my birthday. I thought I would be in Zimbabwe, toasting the passage of another year at a viewpoint overlooking Victoria Falls. After so many trips to Africa, I was finally going to see what my hero explorer David Livingstone saw in 1855, the largest sheet of falling water. I wanted to be awed by its immense beauty and thundering sound. Feel its cold spray on my body.

Then COVID-19 stopped the world.

The only falling water I was seeing was coming out of my sink faucet. I live alone, so it was just me and drips splattering on the porcelain basin before sliding down a drainpipe. 

With each drip came a thought about what I wished I was doing on my birthday. Those thoughts led to ones about past trips taken to Africa, cascading into a reflection about my life.

On balance, I feel happy. I go where I want, do what I wish to (until now). Though are there things I rather not repeat? Moments when I was less than a stellar daughter, sibling, friend, or colleague? Yes, and yes. If I were to go back to visit my younger self, what would I say to her?


I would say, as time goes on, you will not do everything correctly, perfectly. You will make a fool of yourself with boys you like. You will say things you do not mean to your parents. You will be ashamed to admit some of your feelings or actions. 

But then.

There will be times when you will dance wildly, unabashed. Times when you will love so deeply. Times when you will feel so filled by life and its joyfulness. Times when you feel that the Divine has touched you.

Embrace both the light and the dark. You have one to appreciate the other. Each has its place. The darkness, if you allow it, helps you to grow as a person. Learn the lessons that are always there. The lightness is your just reward for getting beyond the shadow side. 

It is in the light where you feel love, connection, gratitude, compassion. It is when you strip away the darkness that you find meaning and purpose in your life.

Do not be afraid of the darkness. There will eventually be light, hope, and an opportunity to start anew if you so chose.

I know this may sound abstract and rosy, though it is all true because that is what your wiser, older self has experienced. 

So, live your days as best as you can. Not timidly, go boldly. Accept and take responsibility for all your thoughts and actions. Do this, and you will arrive at feeling in control, content, and happy with your world. I know I do, and it is okay that I am not at Victoria Falls on my birthday. This moment, on this day, despite COVID-19, is perfect.

About. After researching Happiness and Mindfulness for more than a decade, part of my mission in life is to help people get out of the crazy and into the happy. Website: The Sojourn Experience. Newsletter: 8 Good Things.


  • Maria Baltazzi

    Ph.D., Conscious-Centered Living

    The Sojourn Experience

    Emmy Award-winning Television Producer, one of the original producers on CBS's Survivor. After years in the entertainment industry, Maria began studying Happiness and Mindfulness as a way to deal with the stressful demands of producing. Today, she works with professionals to uplevel the quality of their lives. Her teachings include meditation and mindful movement. Maria has been on all seven continents twice. Once as a storyteller. The second time was entering and walking marathons for charity. When not on location producing a show, she curates inner and outer journeys for a greater good. She leads private transformational adventures as well as happiness retreats.