“Through many dangers, toils, and snares, [and sorrows]
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.” — John Newton

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And now I’m 43. If there’s one self portrait that I feel defines a good portion of the past year of my life, it’s the one you see above. A lot of things have changed, and I felt myself quite often removed and isolated, even while I was in the middle of it all. I don’t like to think of this phase that way - I doubt there’s ANYbody who actually likes the term “middle aged” - but, God willing, that’s what it is. The middle. And boy oh boy am I smack dab in the middle of so many things.

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My relationship with my only child has altered greatly in the past 18 months or so. I’m still dealing with the effects of being, in essence, forcibly downsized from a job I feel like I was born to do. There’s plenty of emotional fallout to the various stages of motherhood without having the rug pulled out from under you repeatedly. But that’s where I find myself. Sometimes, survival takes disguises.

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Keep it all in. Keep it to yourself. Suck it up, you can get through this. "Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum." Pretending like you’re fine when you aren’t doesn’t really help anyone in the long run, however. It can leave you feeling like a shadow of your former self.

(Also, sometimes shadows are just plain fun.)

I’ve had the opportunity to travel a fair amount in the past year, mostly in the passenger seat of the truck but I did go on an airplane for the first time since 2012. WiFi on planes! Who knew.

Estes Park, CO, after an incredible morning in Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park, CO, after an incredible morning in Rocky Mountain National Park

I’m thankful beyond belief for some of the new steps I was able to take in my 42nd year. I got involved in things I had never considered before, and what I found there has done so much to heal my broken heart. It’s easy, when you’ve been through something that’s difficult and painful, to keep your eyes on the ground, to be afraid to look up again. But when you DO look up, and look around, there are people waiting for you with hugs warmer than Olaf’s and a welcome so genuine you wish you’d knocked on the door years ago.

What’s next? More years, I hope - lots more. More chances to learn and grow, to do good, to spread joy, to give and give and give.