This week, as my kids prepared to wrap up the school year and celebrate my son’s birthday, which simultaneously happens to fall on the anniversary of my grandparent’s death, nostalgia set in. I was looking around at all the photos that fill my office and couldn’t help but think how quickly the time is passing. I was reminded of this during a conversation with my mother where we discussed the last time all my siblings – my brothers, my sister, and I – were together at the same time.

It served as that nudge I needed to be present and continue working hard to build a peace-filled life.   And the last few weeks have made it abundantly clear just how important those things are.

Sometimes the noise in our lives comes in the form of a person or letting fear creep in. Other times it is the hustle and bustle – work, parenting, relationships – that simply serve as a distraction. And lord knows, we all have things that can get the better of us, things we deal with internally.

It’s called being human.

Before we left Australia, someone from my expat group provided a warning of sorts, “some things that have changed will surprise you, including people.”

“People” was not exclusive to just others, my experience overseas also changed me – as it should. You don’t make monumental life changes and stay the same.

But even without massive change, isn’t life all about growth? Moving ourselves forward in a constant state of evolution? And part of that is allowing yourself to live life from a place of gratitude – no matter what the circumstances.

When I returned, some friendships in my life picked up exactly where we left off. Some we found ourselves even closer. While others, sadly, were non-existent. And if I am being completely honest, it was the third of these options that was the hardest to accept. But as you do when life changes, you make a choice to continue moving forward or you let your circumstances defeat you. And for me, that’s just not an option! Period.

If you spend your time analyzing what every single person you have ever interacted with thinks of you or running the play by play of every situation in your head, you will not only waste energy, but miss out on all the great things, including people, that are right in front of you.

Years ago, I was at a backyard BBQ with some friends. My son had just turned 4 and was still in diapers. He was jumping on the trampoline with some of the kids from the neighborhood, most of them were older than him. One of the little boys noticed he was still in diapers and started chanting, “diaper, diaper, diaper!” His mother quickly went over and reminded him that he was in diapers until he was that age and that she was still wiping his rear at 9 years old!

But it wasn’t so much what happened in that moment that stuck with me, it was what came next.  

Once the kids finished jumping, my son came over and said, “Hey guys, did you hear all of my fans cheering for me?”

I was in awe of this small amazing human being. It was one of those proud parent moments. What perspective and insight – at 4 years old!

He didn’t let any of it affect him. In fact, he turned it around and made it a positive.

When people don’t understand you or when life hands you a situation that is less than ideal, you get to decide how much you let that affect you.

YOU are the gatekeeper to your own life.

The essence of who you are is not weighted in what other people think of you. Own your truth and surround yourself with people who get you, who support you, who love you – regardless of what else might be going on in your life. There will always be those who don’t, that is on them. You don’t need to own anyone else’s thoughts, feelings, actions or otherwise.

Maybe you have someone in your life right now that is making you question something about yourself. The stress at work has created so much noise you have forgotten who you are. Parenting has left you exhausted. Or you are simply in a more difficult season of life.

No matter what is challenging you to stay connected and remember who you are, take some time to clear the noise and find that person.

Go for a walk. Set the alarm clock for 20 minutes earlier. Pull over as you are driving home from work.

Find the space you need – you may just discover your biggest cheerleader along the way! And in case you were still wondering, that person is YOU!!

Cheers to living your best life!!!

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