(Me & Cathy on the Island of Capri, Italy at 20 years old).
This past Sunday I had the honor of celebrating being a Mom for the 13th year. I also felt the emptiness of recognizing my 14th Mother's Day with my own Mom in Heaven. It always makes me reflect on life, and what could have been. This year I decided to write a letter to my younger self to do some healing. I will vulnerably share that letter with all of you here:
Dear 20 year old me,
I am writing to you from the future. At 42 years old I have inherited and earned some important wisdom that you may find interesting.
Right now you are fearless! You have no idea how hard you will have to fight to find this part of you again later on in life. In a few months you will decide to study abroad for college. You will pack your bags with your college roommate and tour the world. On a random Tuesday you will wake up and think that it is a great idea to fly to Italy. IT IS!!! It is always a great idea to fly to Italy. One day you will show your husband and children this too. When you are 20 and traveling Europe you will fully embrace the different cultures and people, and you will feel more alive than you could ever imagine. You will fall in love with adventure, you will take great risks, and you will experience things that you can sense will never happen in your safe little corner of the world at home. Please 20 year old self, hang on to that zest. There will come a time when you will become afraid of taking risks, afraid of getting on an airplane to travel, afraid of failing, afraid of letting people down, and frankly afraid of living...
At 22 you will graduate from college and take another big risk. You will decide to leave a corporate job that paid your way through school and guaranteed you a paved career path and ladder. You will do this to spend the summer down the beach with your girlfriends. Despite the warnings from well meaning people, you will never regret this decision, and you will always love being at the beach. Trust me, at 42 you will still crave being near the ocean, the peace that it brings you, and the memories of how it shaped you. Right before you leave for the shore that summer, you will meet a boy. His smile will knock you off your feet and you will have one of those "Knowing" moments. Pay attention to that knowing, it is your soul's guidance and it is ALWAYS right. Giving Jimmy your phone number that night (which you will write with your lipstick on the back of your MAC receipt) will be the smartest thing that you will ever do! He and his friends will decide to spend the summer at the beach too. I urge you to do more spontaneous, fun things like that. *And by the way, his smile will still melt your heart in 20 years.
As you might have guessed, things will work out with Jimmy and you will spend two years flying back and forth to Mississippi to visit him at school. At 26 years old you will marry him and it will remain the happiest day of your life. During this time you land a job with an amazing company and quickly make your way up to the big office, impressive title, paycheck, stock dividends and get to travel to wonderful places. However, that "Knowing" feeling will show up again and will keep tugging on you to leave that job after a few years. It knows that you are doing what you think that you "should" be doing, what everyone expects you to do, and not what you were born to do. I promise you that it will be ok to leave that job, even though it seems completely crazy to walk away from another golden opportunity. Please have more faith that life is always working out for you. The good news is that by the time you are in your late 30's you will not care as much about what other people think you should do, or what they think of you in general. Your uncertain voice will become one of conviction and strength.
But before you find that voice, you will completely loose it. The world will change in your eyes. 9/11 will rock your world and two scary experiences while flying will cause you to want to keep your feet on the ground permanently. Then the lights will get turned out on you completely. A few months after leaving that job, 9/11 and celebrating your wedding, you will be down the beach with your girlfriends again when you receive a call from Jimmy that will change your life forever. He will ask your friend to drive you to the hospital as your sister, brother-in-law, 3 young nephews and Mom will be involved in a serious car accident.
I will warn you that 14 years later you will still not be able to un-see the suffering that your sweet Mom endured. You will not be able to shake the scene of those last moments and you can not forget the pain in your Dad's face and the sound of his desperate cry. Your last words to your Mom while she is still conscious, will be "I will never be ok without you". You will keep your word to her for many, many years. You will not be ok for a very long time. You will become angry at God. You will become angry at life, and every one of your relationships and everything around you will all be affected by this.
Fearless and adventure will be replaced with fear and anxiety. Dear sweet,younger self, I can not lie to you, it will be very dark for a while. There will be one thing that saves you - You will become a mother.
Your girls will teach you how to live again. Oh, they will challenge you and you will worry, but you will grow as a person in this new adventure of motherhood. You will learn to forgive. You will ask God for forgiveness and develop a relationship and understanding that you did not have before. You will have the urge to show your two daughters the world and all of the things that you shut yourself out from. You will find your voice and become a voice for others. You will take a risk and create a program that will honor your Mom and become your legacy for your girls. You will finally follow that knowing to your true calling of helping and healing others through your coaching. You will love Jimmy more than you did 20 years ago, and you feel reconnected to yourself and to your Mom. Yes, you will still miss her desperately but you won't allow that to stop you from living and experiencing joy.
20 Year Old Me, you will discover that life is fleeting and it was meant to be a fun adventure. You should take risks, you should push out of your comfort zone, you should know what failure and pain feels like so you can appreciate the pride, healing and joy that you will work so hard for.
Here at 42 life is grand, but you will still be a work in progress. It is never ending expansion. I pray that we will love, grow and contribute in bigger ways that we have ever dreamed of. Keep following your bliss.
With Visions of LOVE,
Older & Wiser Michelle
PS~ I encourage you to write a letter to your younger self to see what is revealed to you. If you are ready to connect the dots of your past to create the future that you desire, e-mail me today. firstname.lastname@example.org