There is a measure of deep gratitude for those that helped me along this path, and a deep sense of debt that can never be repaid, except maybe, if I pay it forward. That's probably the only way to set that bill to rights.
But choices....life is about choices.
....to challenge myself physically instead of relying on excuses for inactivity
....to re-evaluate overuse and make changes that respect the body and the spirit
....to nurture the soul with yoga and meditation and writing
....to fuel my body with nutritious foods
....to say "no" to food as a comfort item
....to give up the crutches of cigarettes and prescription medications
....to take risks and being okay when an attempted connection doesn't work
....to look out my window every morning and thank God for the gift of another day
....to breathe the outside air, listen to the sounds of nature, and feel the ground beneath my feet
....to reject childhood beliefs about my abilities
....to judge myself and others by actions, not by appearance
....to see the beauty in every smile
....to be unapologetically me
Maybe the last one is the most important. I used to worry about how I came across to people and fret that I laughed too loud, or spoke without thinking, or any one of a thousand things that I watched myself do wrong. There were nights of sleepliness spent replaying an interaction and wishing I could have a 'redo.' It became easier to create a 'me' that others seemed to want and expect. But the energy required to maintain a false front is grueling. Nowadays, I'm really me and the best thing about being me is that I am more open to changing, because changing is part of a growth process, and not an indication that the persona has cracks and flaws and has therefore failed.
My journey isn't over by a long shot -- still so many areas that need work. But now, there is a deeper sense of strength, a history of success, and tools to use for those days when even the air feels heavy on my shoulders. I hope that when I'm 90, there will still be ways to be just a bit better than the day before. That would be a true gift.
Respect the process my friends, let every good day build on another, use the bad ones as rest days, and mostly, just love yourself. We are beautiful, and we always were.
Thoughts to take with me today: Choose to dwell on the days filled with love and light. Those are the real deal.