Some of the best advice I have ever been given is to celebrate everything. It was said to me in the context of songwriting, but I have found it helpful to apply this wisdom to every area of my life. So today, I am celebrating my 55th birthday. I'm not very good at this particular annual celebration, but in light of the past couple of years, I am putting my party hat on today.
It feels a little unfair I'll be spending part of this day at an oncology appointment, but such is life. I'd like to tell you I'm almost done with these little visits, but no. They are still a regular part of my weeks and while I continue to be thankful for good medical care, I would be thrilled to never see any of these lovely people again. For now, I choose gratitude.
I will also be spending part of my day with 150 high schoolers. I've missed those faces and I'm ready to see them again. I'm not ready to smell them after they've danced for 7 hours a day, but I am definitely ready to see their smiles.
In the past 19 months since my diagnosis - wow, I can't believe it's been that long - the list of life lessons I've learned has gotten pretty long. I like to think of that list as my reward for trying to pay attention all along the way, although I'm sure I've missed a few opportunities to learn something. Sometimes I'm just too tired to care. Most days, however, I am very glad for how God continues to teach this weary traveler new things and for the little glimpses of His glory and goodness on this journey.
I am knee deep in finishing my new book and record and aiming for a late September / early October release date. If I make that public I have a better chance of making it happen, so there you go...I'm locked in. This project is all about HOPE. When I began writing it I had no idea how desperately I would need hope in the days ahead, but it has truly been my lifeline. There have been some incredibly dark days, many of which have nothing to do with cancer. Life is just hard. But remember that list of life lessons? Well, the biggest one I've learned is how hope is bigger, louder, deeper, stronger, better, and brighter than anything we face here. And while I believe that to be true, I also know hope has to be pursued. Fought for. Championed. Because not everyone has the strength to find it on their own. Thus, my determination to offer hope to people who just can't see it or hear it or feel it on their own.
Without a doubt, the past 19 months have made me more purposeful with my days. And while I curse the physical limitations I feel every stinkin' day, I do recognize those limitations demand I be more intentional with whatever time and energy I have. In some respects, my world has become very small and that's not a bad thing. Especially for someone like me who has a habit of biting off more than she can chew. I've had to say no to some people and opportunities, but I've been able to say yes to things that feel more in line with my calling. That feels good. It's like I've been driving 75 for most of my life and now I'm forced to be driving a car that can't go faster than 55. I don't always like the slower pace, but I'm learning to appreciate the benefits of taking life at this speed. It is ironic it took me 55 years to learn this, but better now than never.
So here's to driving 55. Here's to trusting God with the speed limits, the u-turns, the detours, and the occasional break-down. Here's to the people I get to travel with. And here's to the amazing views all along the way. They really are easier to see when you're driving 55.