How to be grateful for it all

After five years of enduring a relationship that almost killed me, freedom tastes so sweet. In the aftermath of being freed from that living hell, when anyone asked me, “How are you?” my first response was, “I’m alive!”

Being alive, after feeling like I was the living dead, and believing (and hoping) the reality of death was waiting just beyond my next breath, being able to say, “I’m alive” and mean it was pure joy.

Sitting here, almost 20 years away from that moment of release, it’s hard to remember how lost and alone, terrified and depressed I was.

What I can and do still feel, is the elation I felt, and still feel, with being alive.

And, while I haven’t quite mastered the art of being grateful for the things he did that brought me to the point of trying to unhook gravity’s hold on my body so I could simply fall into the ocean and be washed out to sea forever, I am grateful for the realization I carry with me today. A realization that came from having walked that path of abuse and self-annihilation so long ago. Life is a precious gift. It asks only that we fall in love with ourselves and all of life moment by precious moment.

There is not one moment of the past that I can change. Regretting that relationship and all the pain and harm it caused those I love is a journey of futility.

In living my realization that life is precious, I fall in love with the woman I was then, and the woman I am today and every day when I hold firmly to my belief in the precious nature of life and celebrate every breath as an act of freedom.

And in that realization, I embrace the deep knowing that I don’t need to be nor become grateful for the things he did. To live in freedom, I only need to live with a grateful heart full of love for this beautiful, fulfilling, love-filled life I live today.

My gratitude I know today is not based on what he did back then. It’s founded in knowing that what he did is nothing compared to what I do, every day, when I embrace everything in my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, with arms, heart, and all my being wide open in gratitude and love.

Long ago, I fell into the trap of believing someone else held the answers to my life and could give me a shortcut to happiness. I am grateful that through that journey, I have learned the truth.

I am 100% accountable for my own happiness. In claiming my responsibility for my life, all of it, I set myself free of regretting things I did and that happened in the past as I say, “Thank you” for the good, the bad and the ugly. IT is all a beautiful gift opening up to the gift of becoming, me.”

And in that gift, I lean, with anticipation and joy, into all life has to teach me on how to live without regret so I can experience the wonder, beauty, and awe of all the world unfolding in its mystery and magic all around me.

Namaste.

Born Too Soon To Live So Long

As I was meditating this morning a thought popped into my head. It didn’t disturb the serenity of the moment as much as awaken me to the possibility of the moment.

“You know Louise, one of the daunting aspects of aging into your 60s and beyond is that there is zero question about how much runway is in front of you. Less than there is behind.”

Oh.

True. But does it matter? Is it the length of the runway in front or behind that’s important in this moment as much as how well I use the runway before me? Will my final approach to the inevitable end of this flight I call my life, land me safely with grace and ease in the forever after? Or, will it be a bumpy, bone-jolting setting down that unnerves me right to the last breath it takes away?

It is an undeniable fact. While scientists state the first person to live to one hundred and twenty is already walking this earth, I am probably not that person.

Which kind of means… I’m running out of runway.

‘Cause I’m born too soon to live so long.

It kind of sounds like the title of a C&W song. “Born too soon to live so long / I still got a long ways to go / I gotta make each moment count / ’cause living’ ain’t over until I play / the final note of my living ode…”

Ooops. Sorry. A momentary lapse in paying attention to this very serious conversation.

But seriously, none of us truly know when the end of that runway will come.

What I do know, is that no matter how long it has taken me to get to this moment, what I do in the next one counts. And how I make it count is up to me.

Yesterday, on my IG feed, the comments regarding me and my ego’s burst of self-pity and concern over ‘my aging look’ generated some powerful responses. One of those responses by my music-video daughter, @LauraHickle, was so full of undeniable truths that I think I might tattoo it on my forehead!

In her response, Laura wrote, “These insecurities would no doubt be intensified with age just due to the way society has erased aging from beauty standards and culture in general. What I like to find power in is just how incredibly punk rock it is to say NO. I am important. I am alive. I have something to say. I exist. Aging exists. Skin conditions exist. Fat exists. And none of this is wrong. None of this is wrong. It is capitalism that has convinced us we should be small and young. It is the misogyny that has led us to believe beauty is equal to our worth…. Photoshopped capitalistic beauty standards fall to the shadow when someone says ‘hello, I exist.’ 

Wow.

You can read all of the amazing comments as well as the full text of Laura’s on my IG page here:

Which brings me back to ‘my runway’.

I don’t know how long it is before I get to the end. I do know there’s more behind me than in front of me.

So… the question becomes, How high do I dare to fly before touchdown?

How high do I dare to raise my voice and sing out loud, “Look at me! Here I am!”

To cry out, NO! To shout out YES. To claim without hesitation, I am alive!

How wide do I dare to stretch my arms? To embrace life in all its ups and downs and ins and outs?

How fast do I dare to run? Into the unknown? Into the mystery? Into the magic? Into LIFE!

How fast and far do I dare to go to release myself from the tyranny of believing I am becoming invisible? I am losing the light? I am getting too old to live out loud?

What wonderful questions to live into on this beautiful last day of August.