I was listening to an episode of Oprah’s Master Class podcast this morning on my way to work. This episode featured Ellen DeGeneres. I love her, she cracks me up and inspires me to be generous and kind and a good listener. And, she gives me permission to embrace my awkward dance moves. I loved learning more about her story. And, you know…Oprah. She’s pretty amazing too.
Something Ellen said took me on a spiral of thoughts into the rabbit hole that is my mind. Ellen has experienced the roller coaster of life for sure, and it appears that she is riding out a nice long peak. Yet, she wants more. She told Oprah that her passion really lies in design and that she has just launched a new brand. At age 61. I thought, “My goodness, she is starting a new big adventure now? In ten years, she will be 71.” I found myself smiling, excited about Ellen’s desire to continue to pursue her passions and to be creative.
I thought about my birthday, coming up in just a couple days. I will be 43. My mind ruminated on the number ten, thinking about what might lie ahead ten years into my future. What might life be like on my 53rd birthday? And then I started thinking about ten years ago…what was life like on my 33rd birthday? I thought back to 2009, when my son Tyson was just two years old and my older son Laine was just seven. Babies. Wow. A lot does happen in ten years, doesn’t it? The years seem to fly by, so it was satisfying to take a moment and look back.
I was turning 33. We lived in our 900 square foot starter home in Traverse City, Michigan. I was a principal at Grand Traverse Academy, finishing up my eighth year there and my fifth year as a principal. I wasn’t on Twitter or Facebook, and I am not even sure I knew what blogging was. I thought school leaders came up with all their great ideas by sitting in their offices late at night and thinking hard. I had no idea of the power of being connected to educational leaders across my state, across the country, and across the world.
My mom wasn’t sick yet. The idea of losing her never even crossed my mind. She was young, only 58. She was still working as a dental hygienist, although she was really looking forward to retirement. We all had no idea what was coming for us in less than a year, and that retirement would never be a part of her life.
In the past ten years, we have moved to three different houses, moved across the state into a new community, said good-bye to families members and welcomed new ones. Many old friends remain in our lives and beautiful new friendships have developed. Lots has changed. Lots has stayed the same.
In two days, I will turn 43. Today someone asked me if I would ever go back to any point in my life. “No,” I answered, “Never. I know so much more now. And, it makes my life so much better.”
I might bemoan wrinkles and gray hair, but I don’t bemoan birthdays. I am grateful for them. Because, you know, the alternative. It’s not so appealing. And, in ten years when I look back at the 43 year old me, I will think about how young I was and how much life I had ahead of me. So, why not celebrate today the memories I will celebrate tomorrow?
Where is this rabbit hole of thought taking me? My thoughts landed in a very comforting spot…I landed on the idea that there will never be a point where I am so old that I cannot be creative and try new things. And, so much can happen in ten years. They may fly by, but there are full of beautiful lessons, beautiful experiences and beautiful people. And, when I am 53 or 63 or 73, I will think about how young I was at 43. So, that is what I am. Young and full of life and thankful for all that I have experienced and ready for the next adventure.
Where were you ten years ago? What has happened in those short years? Where might you be ten years from now?
Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years. -Ausonius