Think of the happiest things/ It’s the same as having wings.

I balance where I was a year ago against today. Who I was a year ago against the person in the mirror this morning. What is the same? What is different? What did I see coming? What is so surprising it’s hard to even know how I got here? What am I grateful for? What am I hopeful for? What do I know for sure today that I didn’t know before today?

Here it is, this is what I know for sure. This and only this:

You go forward. Even if it looks like you are going backwards. Even if there are hiccups. Even if it isn’t linear. You go forward. Even if your feet are dragging. Even if you are scared. Even if you don’t want to. You go forward. You give yourself another chance, even though it doesn’t feel like that at all. Even though you are embarrassed, humiliated, full of poor judgement and anxiety. Even though your mistakes feel huge and your flaws enormous and you need to hide away from even yourself. You go forward. Your heart keeps beating towards joy. Towards laughter. Towards good friends and love. Towards another chance. Towards hope. Towards God and goodness and forgiveness. Towards patience, trust and falling in love. Towards strength. And self-love. And inclusion.

Life is hard. I know that for sure. And it doesn’t leave anybody out of the game. In fact, until we start getting banged up and scarred from it, it seems we are hardly playing at all. Just watching. On the team, but in the dugout. On the bench. Unsure of what it feels like to be on the field; sweating, bleeding, exhausted but striving towards something bigger. It’s scary, waiting and watching to get up there yourself. But once you do, you make it through. You do. I know this for sure. And when you get on the field. The field of hard things, of grief and fear, heartbreak, humiliation, poverty, discouragement, depression, and loneliness. You realize there are others up here playing with you. Who have your back. Who want you to win as much as you want them to win. You aren’t alone, not really. I know this for sure too. And I know that others have played and made it through-so can you. You can, it’s true. You really can. You just have to do it. You just have to close your eyes and leap. Or leave the relationship. Or pack your life up and move. Or say “no more”.

And once you do all of that your mind becomes blank for a while. Deep, black soil for new things to grow. Like a forest floor after a fire. Rich with minerals and nutrients, ready for planting. And then you have to plant the right things. I also know this, oh yes, for sure. You have to plant goodness with patience. You have to plant love of all shapes and sizes (for yourself and for others). You have to plant kindness. And fun and joy and laughter and happiness and strength and rainbow sprinkles and polka dots and wind chimes and bubble baths, lemonade and bubblegum. Things that make you feel like you. The you before the fire. The you before you knew the fire was even possible. A little you. You before life got the better of you and you cried more than you laughed. And then you take that version and you hold her to your heart and you say “You matter. You are more important than the hard stuff. The hard stuff will come, there is no doubt about that. But I’m going to wake up, get up and carry us through to the good stuff again. Because you deserve it, little me. And so do I.”

And then you go forward.

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