Have you ever heard people say “Life Is Long?” And at the same time they say that it passes in the blink of an eye? I think that both are actually true. There are so very many chapters in life that it sometimes seems like you have forever. And then there are those times in life that go by before you were ready for them to end. Such is life as they say!
Last year, I went to a conference which was held in Orlando. I know what you’re thinking – The parks! Epcot! Disney princesses! And as fun as that all is (and would have been if my family had been able to join me!), I was really there for work. I went to learn something, make connections, see old friends and get inspired. There were many highlights to the weekend, but one that really stuck out to me was a keynote given by Missy Ward. Missy is a successful businesswoman who I have heard speak before, but this was different. This was Missy telling us about herself (her real self) and what steps she took, stumbled during, and succeeded at to get where she is today. There were many things that she said that I related to, but this one really left me inspired – There will be many chapters in your life. Don’t get lost in the one you’re in now.
I take this statement to mean a few things, but they all tie into one. First, you have to plan for the future. Who do you want to be in five years? Where do you want to be? What life do you see for yourself? If these aren’t questions that you can answer right now, marinate on them. Let the answers come to you – or just make a choice out of thin air! Work towards where you want to be. If you don’t know where you want to be – or even what direction you want to head in, how can you possibly get there?
Second, this time in your life (and I’m talking about today) is fleeting. It will not last and it will continue into a new chapter. This could be great news or sad news, but it is the truth. If you love what you are doing today, enjoy it. Savor it. Let it fill you up so that you can take it with you into the next chapter. What is happening today may no longer be happening in your future, but those memories live on and will influence the next chapters of your life.
This sentiment is the same if you are in a time of struggle. It will not last forever. Have hope that things will change. Work hard to turn the pages and watch the next chapter appear. Pain is something that you carry with you, but you can make it through. There will be a new chapter and it may arrive before you expect it to. My hope for you is that it is an easier chapter to bear.
Third, you have to allow that new chapter to come. You can fight it, but you won’t win. We each have different jobs and responsibilities in each chapter that may or may not pertain to the next. I think about this a lot as a parent. Every story that my daughter and I tell each other, every conversation about Doctor Who with my son – this won’t be forever. They were once babies and they’ve grown. It’s beautiful to watch and I do my best to enjoy every stage because ultimately, this will end. It will become something new and hopefully beautiful, but this day, this experience won’t be here any longer. And that is the way it is supposed to be.
It is my job to do everything that I can to help my children be fulfilled adults who want to contribute to this world. People who have compassion for others and dreams for themselves. I owe them as much as I can possibly give, as my parents gave to me, and as I hope my children will give to their children. But this life will move into a new chapter in a few years. I will still be there, but it won’t be for a band-aid or a bed time story (unless they really want one as twenty-five year-olds). I will be there with maternal-friendship and an ear, ready to listen, with support and love and all that I can give. And space. That is the thing that I think most parents struggle with. There will be a day where they are ready to be off on their own, living their own lives. And as a parent, it will be my job to give them the space that they need to make their mistakes, while always being there if they need me. That will be our next chapter. What will be yours?
We can’t change the past and we can’t control the future, but we can plan for it. If you think about only the chapter you’re in, it is going to be a very tough transition. I truly believe that you can do anything you set your mind to, so it is time to get to work towards that next chapter! Missy is a great example of this – an intelligent, beautiful, savvy, and imperfect woman full of sparkles who continued to grow and succeed chapter after chapter. Let the book that you are writing be one that you enjoy. It is the one that you get the privilege of living.