January 16, 2023
This year ends in a three. That makes it a mile marker for me, a new decade starting this month. So, naturally I am taking stock and looking back. Here is what sits at the past three decade mile markers:
1993 – Turned 30. Got pregnant with my first child ~ the beginning of a new chapter.
2003 – Turned 40. Felt a sense of relief and accomplishment as a parent. Diaper days were behind me, school days in full swing. Life was looking good.
2013 – Turned 50. Moved my parents from Tyler to Arlington and began the caregiving journey. Said goodbye to our 13-year-old German Shepherd.
These were significant moments in time for me. I pause for a glimpse of the distance I've traveled. It’s been a good life, and it continues to grow richer, deeper, and wider.
I remember my mom saying in her later years that as they got older, more of their friends were dying. The further we travel the more loss we experience. It’s inevitable. Along with loss and grief comes a deeper sense of gratitude and awe. Life and death are interwoven, held in mystery and grace. When we witness the passages into and out of the physical world, we realize neither is to be feared. Both are sacred. What’s hard is watching our loved ones suffering and unraveling. In the last decade I have experienced this with my dog, both of my parents, and my friend Kim. Add to that the grief that came with the global pandemic, multiple mass shootings, and a society in turmoil. It’s been a rough decade. Grief has become a steady presence in companionship with deep love and joy, woven together like life and death.
Looking back across the years brings me to a moment of Wow. Thanks. I’m still here. Standing on the threshold of a new decade, I feel sturdy most days. I’ve grown more comfortable with uncertainty. Through the shaking and breaking of the past decade has come an awareness of a wider grace. What I’ve learned has stretched my understanding and acceptance of me, of others, and almost everything. That makes for a softer, simpler life. It’s still a work in progress.
Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me. It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends, who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life – finally … not necessarily the one people imagined for me or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be. –Anne Lamott
I am inspired by the many women I see growing into their authenticity, their power and presence. I surround myself with these brave, bold, beautiful souls in whatever way I can – befriending them, reading their books, listening to their podcasts, celebrating their successes, and stepping up onto the higher ground they have paved stone by stone. I am embracing the whole of it with a lightness of being that comes when we drop judgment, anxiety, and self-doubt.
Wherever you stand today, look back on the years that have brought you here. Gather up the lessons, losses, and love. Give thanks and celebrate that you are still here, held in the mystery and wonder of life. Embrace the shape and substance of you and the life you have longed for.
Elisa J. Juarez