Recently, I celebrated my 40th birthday. I spent the specific day with friends, family & supporters of my endeavors. There was plenty of food, fun and fellowship to be had by all. I received countless numbers of birthday wishes in all forms of communication. While I enjoyed my specific day very much, I had actually began celebrating July 1st. I went to lunches, dinners, a movie, shopping, etc…with my children, friends and colleagues throughout the entire month. It is a milestone that I will always treasure.

I’ve also used the month as an opportunity to do a great deal of self reflection. I have certainly made some poor choices in my personal and professional life. Despite my best efforts, I realize that I didn’t always make the mark. I didn’t always get it right. I’ve had people to walk out of my life, sometimes without explanation. Sometimes from misunderstandings beyond my control. And, there are still those people, places and things that I’ve had to walk away from in order to protect myself and the integrity of my professional and personal goals. So, what have I learned over the past 40 years? Resiliency and acceptance.

I used to worry about what others would think about me sharing my story. I would try to analyze why people would walk away without any explanation. I couldn’t understand the need to have to completely disassociate myself from people. Surely there’s a way to still do what I do, believe in who & what I believe in and still have a relationship with them.  Truth be told, sharing my story has been as much of a help to me as the people who tell me that I’ve inspired them in some way. I use a combination of personal experiences as well as professional training. If a person walked/walks out of my life without explanation,  asked myself if the friendship/relationship is one truly worth trying to save. If it was, I documented my efforts to contact them & prayed/mediated. Regardless of the outcome, my conscience is clear. If it wasn’t, I considered it a blessing. Lack of communication leads to grave misunderstandings. I’ve found that some people would rather believe a lie or tell one in an effort to pursue their own agenda. But, in most cases,  just like lying, truth will reveal itself. As for the people, places & things I let go, I had to accept that I have held on out of convenience or familiarity. I’m working very hard to ensure that the things I do, the places I go and the people I meet will prove to be a mutually growing experience.

I accept the role I’ve played in my peaks and valleys. I can only correct those things for which I’ve been made aware. I recognize that I cannot save the world, nor can I change the past. I can however, use my experiences to show strength,  love for self and courage. I can show others how to take negative situations and use them for their betterment. Through my acceptance, I show my resiliency. I’ve seen & overcome abuse in nearly every form. I know what it means to be homeless & jobless. I know what it’s like to love and not have it returned or love so hard that you lose yourself. And, yet, at 40, I’m truly the happiest I’ve ever been in my life & I have a better understand of who I am, whose I am and what I need, want and deserve out of life. I am no longer existing, I’m living!