I have been bestowed the great privilege to experience the great joys, depths, trails, and tribulations of life. As I welcomed in my eighty-second chapter this week of more growth and possibilities, I reflected on the notion that I have the unique opportunity to get younger and not older. It is in my control to support my younger self with my daily thoughts and actions. Many of the beliefs I practiced at age thirty and forty are no longer relevant and impeccable today. Life over the years has been about learning, unlearning, and relearning. It has taken me sixty-five years to truly value the importance to know what I did not know but needed to know. Still, at 82, I am figuring out, what I do not know but need to know, and how it is going to help me stay relevant in this ever-changing world.
Birthdays for me are not so much about celebrating but about being engulfed in gratitude for having another moment, day, week, month and year to explore, to love, to serve, to share, to create, to learn and to grow. I view each year of life as a sacred gift but also an obligation to continue to explore and reach for my outer limits. The light shines on our soul just once in life. I have been on a self-discovery journey to allow that light to shine as bright as possible. There is still an untapped reservoir of burning purpose and potential within you and I that is waiting to be revealed and activated.
My secret to longevity is to keep a long list of questions, and then spend as much time reflecting on and answering those questions while searching for what is real. When in search, the truth can be found in the strangest places. We must always fill ourselves with more questions than answers. You should never retire your mind. After you retire mentally, then you are just taking up residence in society. I do not ever just want to be a resident of society. I want to be a contributor to our communities. While self-reflection and exploration questioning can be scary and not comfortable at times; this process becomes a vital foundation towards liberating growth and breaking free from old fixed mindsets and ways of living.
The most valuable present I will ever receive is the gift of being alive. As I welcome in my eighty-second year, I share with you lessons, I continue to learn and practice daily as I actively participate in this most precious game called life.
1. Be more open to differences.
2. Find common ground.
3. Listening is learning.
4. Change before you have to.
5. Value the word “no.”
6. Be more flexible.
7. Think young, act old.
8. Take more risks.
9. Be grateful for the present moment and the future.
10. Focus on needs less on wants.
11. Bigger does not mean stronger.
12. Own your day.
13. Ask more questions.
14. Go slower. Go farther.
15. Embrace failure.
16. Welcome criticism.
17. Seek options and opportunities.
18. Think, speak, and act positively.
19. See the world differently.
20. Bombard my brain with optimism.
21. Spend my life living not just existing.
22. Do not take away someone’s sunshine.
I am still trying to understand, like most of us, what the future holds. We are living in a time where it is vital to our holistic development to be comfortable with change and to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. At 82, I am still a work in progress. Life is not fair nor unfair. Life just is. Life is what it is. Life becomes what we make it. At eighty-two, I still have child-like dreams. We are never too old to dream. I dream of things that never were and ask why not? I dream of being a positive difference maker in as many lives as possible. Without dreams, the aspirations that fuel our existence cannot manifest into fruition.
Realize wisely and earnestly, with each passing minute, our life ultimately, ticks away. None of us know how much time we have left here on Earth. However, we are in control of how we live in this moment and with the time we have left. I have come to deeply understand that every day is a new beginning to live, to love, to learn, to grow, to share, to laugh, to serve, to forgive, to act, to reflect, to fail, to let go, to rise, to thrive, and to smile. While our birthday’s come around every year, each day we are truly reborn. Every day becomes a unique opportunity to mature and travel the roads less traveled in pursuit to uncovering the outer depths of who we are.
As I reflect on turning eighty-two, I am filled with immense enthusiasm to celebrate and appreciate the great fullness of this phenomenon called life. Life is a journey with no finish line. The marathon continues as I refuse to retire from learning, growing, and exploring. Because when we do that, our spirit dies rapidly while still being alive!