I’m in the process of going through our son’s closet. School is out and it’s time to go through the clothes and shoes that no longer fit him. I do this a couple times of year to make room for things that fit him and to make a list of what I’ll need to start shopping for him on. Soon there will be a couple boxes or bags to give away or put into a tag sale if we have one this year.
Cleaning out his closet is a bittersweet process. I remember the last time he wore a specific shirt or which t-shirts are his favorite. I find things that have the tags still on them because he grew so quickly he didn’t have a chance to wear them! Then I find things that still fit and I hope he stays that small for a little while longer so I can cherish this time a little longer. This process reminds me he is constantly growing and changing. Not that long ago it seems I was putting in 2T sized clothes on tiny little hangers thinking of all the cute outfits he would wear. Now I’m looking at an emerging young boy with jeans too short for him and t-shirts he can’t get over his head.
Watching our children grow is hard to see sometimes. It’s like one day we look up and see they are now leaving to play with friends or start their own life and we were still enjoying those little kid moments when they needed us for everything. As a parent you hope that while you were enjoying the fun stuff or just trying to make it through the day making sure he was fed and homework was done that you have given him all that he will need to survive this world on his own. You hope against hope he knows what to do in any kind of situation he may encounter and that you will be there when he needs help.
It’s not that I have all the answers or would know what to do either but when it comes to our kids we have this protective behavior we want to give them not accepting that we may not be able to help them sometimes. How many of us learned some very tough life lessons without our family coming to our rescue? I think of my own journey and hope our son doesn’t have some of those same experiences and yet I know it has completely influenced who I am today. Unfortunately we often learn the best in the hardest of situations.
When we look at our life like the process of cleaning out our closet we can see that journey so clearly. We can remember where it started, how it transpired and how we felt in that moment. We can remember maybe even the sensation of being uncertain, intimidated or afraid. These life experiences become what we clothe ourselves in to influences how we solve future problems, enter into or get out of situations and make decisions. As hard as some of my life was I don’t know that I would trade much of it because it lends so much strength and courage to the situations I am in today. Yet I’m very glad I grew out of those prior circumstances and am no longer experiencing them in that way.
While so much of our life today is the result of our past it does not need to dictate or impact our future. That truly is the nimbleness of life. Despite how harsh our pasts we can heal, overcome, change courses and make it better. We can use the lessons we learned and how we fit and responded in them to feed how we want things to go in our future. It however takes tremendous courage to walk away from the past that is limiting us today. We can grow into our dreams for the future even if we don’t believe that right now.
I look at my son and see his excitement for turning 9 in a couple months. He’s looking forward to the adventure of what that age will bring to him. He’s growing and changing to be ready for those changes. That forward looking excitement of a child is what all of us should feel like when we dream of what our lives can look like as well. This seems to get harder to do the older we get but the more we can hang onto our sense of adventure, desire to learn and willingness to grow out of where we are I believe it is entirely possible.
How many people do you know in the middle of their career who just start looking forward to retirement so they don’t have to work anymore? They’re tired of the corporate nonsense and they’ve seemed to have lost their interest in exploring new things? I’ve caught myself feeling this way. I get tired of the stress and constant demands and how it makes me feel exhausted at the end of the day. Yet I know if I let life beat me down like that I will stop growing. I will settle and not be anything more than I am right now. That can be exhausted and burned out or excited about my future opportunities.
Much of this comes down to our perspective on life. We can hang tightly to sweet memories like a favorite outfit I have of my son when he was tiny and yet I can still dream of what’s next for him. Even though I’m burned out with my career I can take the steps to change that to re-light the possibility of creating my own dream. I can stay excited among the dark circumstances and know that it can be figured out, positive and meaningful for me to live my best life. All it takes is the willingness to let yourself GROW.
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