“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” ~Dalai Lama
“I wish I could do it all over again,” said my grandmother on her 60th wedding anniversary.
“Really?” I asked.
A small smile crossed her face as she replied, “Yes. Because when you enjoy your life—when you really enjoy your life—it just goes by so fast. I wish I could go back and do it all again.”
There was my 80-year-old grandmother, who, in the twilight of her years, spoke to me not of regrets.
Nor did she tell me about all the things she wished she could have done in her life, or wished she had done differently.
There were no shouldas, wouldas, or couldas.
She’d do everything the same. She’d live the same life, with the same experiences, all over again.
I wonder, how many of us will say that in the twilight of our lives?
For many years I wouldn’t have said that. I was unhealthy. I ate too much, drank too much, and hardly exercised. I hated my job in politics and public policy, but didn’t know what else to do in my career. And despite having all these friends and family members around me, I was unhappy.
I lived in my own “dark ages,” until shortly before my 28th birthday when I woke up. Something had to change—I had to change.
That was three years ago.
I’ve since lost forty pounds and three dress sizes, and kept it off.
And last year, after working almost ten years in politics and public policy, I walked away from my job to work as a freelance writer. My new career has gone better than I could have imagined.
I got to this point in my life by doing one thing: by living one day at a time. I focused on doing one thing each day that moved me a little closer to where I longed to be.
When I started losing weight I began with what I knew—running. Then as I grew more comfortable with that, I looked at my diet. After I signed-up for fitness classes, and finally I decided to work out with a trainer.
I focused on finding what fit me best. I let go of the need to lose weight by a certain date, or even that I had to reach a certain number on the scale. My dream was to be fit and healthy.
And as all of this was happening I began to discover things, like music and cooking, that brought joy to my being.
I started to remember things in my life that once made my heart smile, but I thought I had lost forever under the rubble of self-loathing, like writing.
I wrote every day, without expectation, until months later I began to think that maybe I could one day do this for a living.
I didn’t know how that would work, or how to bridge my life from politics to freelancing, but I kept going, one day at a time.
I heard that little voice within my heart whisper, “just write,” and so I wrote. I wrote at night on my computer and in my journal. And then I started blogging. I wrote about my life, but I’d never shared my writing with anyone before, so I didn’t really want people to read it.
But I wrote, and I lived, and it led me to unbelievable discoveries about myself, my life, and the direction I wanted to walk.
I didn’t know if I’d ever reach my dreams. I didn’t know when they’d arrive. I didn’t know who I was going to meet, or where I’d be led.
I stopped trying to figure out, define, or plan every step on the journey to making my life, or my dreams, happen.
I learned to enjoy my life for what it was in that moment. I found peace in who I was, and where I was, without even knowing that’s what I had been searching for all along.
I couldn’t have imagined or planned for the path I took to today—yet here I am.
And even as I live my dreams today, I’ve found new ones have emerged.
These last three years I faced, and I still do today, unexpected challenges, fears, and insecurities. I’ve stumbled. I’ve doubted. I’ve questioned. But I’ve kept walking.
Because through it all I’ve come to accept that everything is a process—my body, my writing, my relationships, my being. I’m the masterpiece of my life, and I’ll never be finished.
I refine, I hone, and then I release what I create, only to start again and again and again.
And so do you.
You are the masterpiece of your life.
And if today, you find yourself disliking what you’ve created so far, that’s okay. Because that’s how it all starts. You can’t change something if you don’t know you want it to be different.
So wherever you are in life, right now, close your eyes.
Breathe deeply. Remember, you’re alive. This moment, it’s just that. A moment. It won’t last forever.
Now imagine taking one tiny step forward.
Just one thing you’ve been thinking about doing, that your heart has pleaded with you to do but that you keep talking yourself out of it.
It doesn’t matter what that thing is. Write a letter to an old friend. Go to the gym. Make an appointment with a counselor. Visit your parents. Walk outside. Apply for that job you really want. Get up at 5 AM to watch the sunrise. Play the piano. Just take one step today.
And then take another small one tomorrow.
Let go of having to know what the end result will be. You set something in motion, that’s more than enough.
Let go of having to know all the steps you need to take to make your dreams come true. You know your direction, that’s more than enough.
Trust that your life always turns out exactly as it needs to—even if you look around right now and say “you’re kidding, right?”
Because you are exactly who you need to be today in order to become the person you will be tomorrow.
Wherever you are in this moment, may you know and feel the truth of this…
Today you are perfect. Today you are worthy. Today you are deserving. Today you are loved. Just as you were yesterday, just as you will be tomorrow.
So live from your heart. Be honest. Be open. Be inspired. Be amazed. Keep doing what you love. Keep learning. Keep smiling.
Keep living one day at a time, so that when you reach the twilight of your life, just like my grandmother, you will wish to do it all over again.
Photo by Jozoana