Then, it was the summer before the last year of high school for my daughter. Days were filled with college visits, applications and essays. Before we knew it, it was the last back to school shopping trip to collect the perfect pencils, a small stack of wire trimmed notebooks and binders. Then came the last first day of school, taking a final back to school photo of a reticent teenager who was none too interested in such things, flashing back to that first day of school that seemed like a lifetime ago.
Next, I faced down the release of the career I'd built with tenacity, passion and hard work. I began navigating my reinvention at an age when most people are settling in for the last leg of their journey. Round and round and round she goes, and where she'll end up, not even she knows. Yet, I kept marching bravely forward, certain of my talents and abilities, confident that I would get there and the only way there was to keep letting go.
The final release, and perhaps the most personal, meant accepting that the blush of my youth lay behind me. Every newly emerged wrinkle, each small ratchet downward of my jawline and neck, all of the subtle changes to my face were just enough to make me feel as if the woman in the mirror was most certainly not me. My response to the ravages of time was to dye my hair a most vivid shade of pink. After all, one cannot fade away with hot pink tresses.
This was my year of letting go. It was the year where I was forced to embrace the process of release. None of what I have to release is a surprise, but even knowing that these things were coming didn't make it any easier when they arrived at my doorstep demanding to come inside. When we're young, we have no idea how fast life will fly. Before we know it, before we've fully come to understand the gift of time, we find ourselves gazing into the rear view mirror slack jawed and confused. Where did the time go? How did we get here from there?
In this year of letting go, every small milestone held a deeper meaning. As I watched my daughter begin her own process of release so that she could open her arms wide to her future, I had to find the strength to propel her forward. It's the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. Yet, what a gift! What joy! What an amazing thing to have raised such an exceptional young woman. Bittersweet, this word sums it up perfectly.
And here I am, in the last month of the year, realizing that the adventure this year was internal. I am changing, and that is good. My youth is behind me, but I have many more years ahead. My career may have ended, but new avenues are unfolding. The empty nest looms, but I can take comfort in knowing that if I have done nothing else, I have helped to guide my daughter towards a most certainly brilliant future. Life isn't measured by how we look or what we do for a living, it is measured by how much we love.
There it is, the final release, letting go of the need to control the outcome and to open my arms and my heart to whatever the future holds. Bring it on.
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