I am the oldest of seven children and at the ripe old age of 44, the matriarch of our family. (My parents died suddenly in their fifties, all our grandparents have passed and we have no living aunts or uncles.)
Out of the six of us who are living, only two of us are married and I’m the only one who has had a child.
Next year several of my siblings will be marking major life transitions and as I observe how they navigate their journeys and move closer to emotional health and well-being, it makes me pause and reflect on what I needed—or wished I could have heard—when I was their age.
If I was sitting across from her now, here is what I would say to my sweet thirty-year old self:
• Your work is to remember who you *really* are. Who you are is not defined by your family history or the pains or tragedies you experienced growing up.
• Your parents loved in the best way they could. Moving into compassion for them can bring you to a place of liberation.
• The ability to feel grateful is one of the biggest gifts we have been given. Every morning, take a few minutes to express your gratitude for the simple things in your life.
• The simpler your life is, the happier you are. Your sense of joy and satisfaction are not reliant on what you have or your physical surroundings. Ever.
• Your job is to keep opening and softening your heart: to people, to new experiences and to the healing power of nature and movement (yoga, dance, hiking).
• Moment to moment, there are only two choices: love or fear. Which will you choose? Every interaction is motivated by one of these states of being.
• What is it that you *must* do? After you know this, give your heart wholly and completely to this and “feel the fear but do it anyway.”
• Know your portals for healing: music? Movement? Nature? Dance? Writing? Travel? Drawing? Determine what feeds you and keep doing these things. Every day.
• Self-knowledge and self-acceptance are the doors to freedom and peace. Don’t be afraid to become very acquainted with your fears, dreams, personality, self-limiting beliefs, strengths, shadow and brilliance. Love ALL of who you are.
• Your ordinary self is enough—you don’t need to do or be for anyone.
• Reach out and ask for help. There is never any reason to go it alone. We were designed to be inter-dependent. Cultivating this ability is key to your emotional health.
• Go within for the answers. Don’t be afraid of becoming very still. You already have ALL the answers within you. You just have to get quiet enough to hear them.
• Release “should’s” and become comfortable saying “no” with grace and ease. And, watch the Universe respond with delight in delivering to you what you *really* want, not what the media or society dictates you *should* want!
• Listen to your body. An uneasy stomach, tight shoulders or a clenched chest is your body talking to you. Listen to and respond to this amazing internal GPS system.
• Allow yourself to be vulnerable and let people see your fragility as well as your strength. Sharing this side of yourself is transformative and freeing.
• Service to others is your path of practice. But doing this in a way that feeds you rather than drains you, is your life’s work.
With deepest love and compassion—your wise self
If you wrote a letter to your thirty-something (or twenty something) year old self, from your wise self, what would it say?
A big part of my journey to balance and peace has been learning to cultivate a deep sense of compassion for self and knowing I’m doing the best I can, wherever I am on my journey. (And in my thirties, this journey definitely felt like a rollercoaster ride!)
Blessings to my amazing siblings as they continue on their path to self-acceptance and begin the next phase of their lives. I hope they occasionally get quiet enough to hear the whispers of my parent’s wisdom in their hearts, whenever they feel alone or unsure about what’s next.
AN INVITATION: Interested in how you can cultivate more self-acceptance and tap into the power of self-care? Learn how you can join or become trained to lead a self-renewal circle for women. And, join us Nov. 17th for our FREE Live Inside Out class via telephone. Sign up here! And, view all upcoming events here.
The Journey, a blog about coach/author/entrepreneur Renee Trudeau’s personal journey to life balance and living life from the inside out, comes out weekly.
Photo: Renee Peterson Trudeau. St. Francis of Assisi in a garden in Boston’s North End, the city’s oldest residential community, where people have lived continuously since it was settled in the 1630s. St. Francis was one of my father’s favorite spiritual teachers.