Turning Points: tales of transformation-Jennifer Gilbert, Book Marketing Manager, Fitness lover and Mommy

Jennifer Gilbert is a marketing manager at Booktrope, a Seattle based indie publisher.  I met her at Jennifer Hote’s (previous Tales of Transformation guest)  book launching party.  She has a cheery, enthusiastic presence and a four year old boy, so we were fast friends. We got to chatting and she immediately told me how excited she was to have her dream job.  She had previously worked eleven years in channel marketing for technology companies, but after being a victim of a brutal dog attack, resulting in over a year of recovery, she’d lost her job.  Once she recovered sufficiently from her injuries she was ready to get back to work.  She asked her self a simple question.  “What do I love?”  The answer was books.  She re-launched her career bringing her valuable marketing skills to publishing.  Her cup half-full attitude is an inspiration.  Although she sometimes has “why me?” thoughts she remains grounded and forward facing knowing that this experience has helped her become the person she was meant to be. In this interview Jennifer shares with us

  • How a near death experience will rip off all blinders and force you to choose who you will become.
  • How a positive attitude and strong community can help you survive the bleakest moments.
  • Letting go of attachment and holding things lightly creates space for a life you could never even imagine.
  • Experiencing the dark night of your soul releases you to become who you’re meant to be.
  • The incredible connection between physical strength and mental clarity.

How are you becoming your truest self? 

There is nothing like a potential life-threatening deep vein thrombosis to make you look at your life without blinders and decide to be the best mom, wife, and friend you know how to be.  I’ve been interested in personal growth for years, but the test really came when things were hard and I thought the physical pain would never end.  I’ve surrounded myself with quality friends who want my highest good, and it has made such a difference in the hard and the easy times.

Was there a turning point that brought on your transformation? 

I tried to keep my attitude positive from the moment I knew both of my legs were injured, because the alternative was simply too bleak.  I have an incredible community around me and it really took a village to support our family through this.  I felt so loved and blessed as people brought us food, helped with the care of our son who was 2 at the time, flew across the county to provide medical relief to my caretakers, or called to read out loud to me because I was unable to focus on words on a page.  Since I could not run around the lake anymore, my dad and my husband took turns pushing me around the lake in my wheelchair.  My in-laws helped take me to physical therapy so my parents could have a break since they suddenly had a grandson and an injured daughter they were caring for while my husband worked. I cannot imagine going through such a terrible accident without the encouragement and unwavering support of those around me.

How do you get in your own way?

I have fears I never had before that can be debilitating at times.  I have a dog and love dogs, but because a large dog caused my injuries, I have challenges around dogs and places where I think there may be dogs.  This isn’t how I want to live.  I want to take my son to the park and not check for dogs first.  I know it is in my head and isn’t completely rational.  But I have a whole new level of compassion for people who struggle from what I thought before were irrational fears.  Our mind is a powerful instrument, whether it is working for or against us.

What sets you free? 

My freedom comes from letting go of attachment to the outcome, which has been so hard for me.  When I hold things lightly, it creates space for things to happen I never imagined.

What have you had to let go of to make room for the new?

I have had to let go of wanting my leg to go back to before the attack capabilities. This is my new normal and I am alive and healthy and making the most of what I have.  I won’t lie and say there aren’t moments where I have why me thoughts run through my mind.  But I have learned so much from this experience and have become the person I think I was meant to be.  I worked in a marketing job I was not passionate about before.  I now market books which I adore and I would never have gone down this path without going through the dark night of my soul first.

What would you like your legacy to be? 

I would like to inspire other people who have a debilitating injury that there is a light on the other side of the tunnel, and while I may never run another marathon or ski another mountain, I can play with my son and do physical activity with modification I had a hard time envisioning from the seat of my wheelchair. My upper body has never been fitter.  And I know the incredible connection between physical strength and mental clarity.  And it does not hurt that I have an incredibly strong husband who has thrown me over his shoulder (just last week in fact) and carried me places I could not get to on my own.  I struggle with physical pain on a daily basis, but I will not let it get the best of me.  I am still out there doing what I can with the body I have now.

JennifergilbertJennifer is a book marketing manager, fitness lover, and mommy to a most wonderful 4 year old boy. After eleven years in channel marketing for technology companies, she changed careers after recovering sufficiently from her injuries to market a product she is passionate about–books. While she is no longer able to do many of the physical activities she did before, she is learning to modify her fitness goals and trying out new sports and activities. In her free time, she mountain bikes with her hubby, is part of a women’s group with her mom and several friends, and plays the flute for her son. Family has never been more important. And life has never been sweeter.

How Sheryl Sandburg inspired Authentic Connection

I belong to a book club of amazing women.  We love to get together, drink some wine and discuss books and life.  This month we read Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandburg, Facebook’s CO.

The women in book club are representative of the choices available to women today.  We have entrepreneurs, lawyers, corporate and stay at home moms.  Our husbands describe us as “a lot” to handle and, as a group, we have strong opinions about the necessity of empowering women.  I expected an animated discussion.

The hostess, however, took an unexpected approach.  She opened our discussion with one of MY favorite “coachy” questions.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Kaboom!  You could feel the energy in the room shift.

“Eww, were we really going to go there?”

And then she proceeded to bravely tell us her truth.  She shared something growing deep within her, and her courage to be vulnerable allowed us all to feel safe and inspired.  Several hours passed unaccounted for, and an energy of love, support and deep connection flowed through us, as we each shared our fragile desires.

One woman daring to tell her story moved the whole room forward.

Culturally we’ve been told that vulnerability is weakness. Vulnerability can be uncomfortable, it may feel like being naked, but telling your truth is in fact an act of courage.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.
Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”  Brene Brown

Human beings are biologically driven for connection, and the one thing that keeps us outside of connection is our fear that we’re not enough.   We all worry that if we let go of who we’re “supposed to be” and reveal our truest selves people may no longer love and accept us, but the truth is this is when the magic happens, like I witnessed in book club.

You can’t have authentic connection without traveling the road of vulnerability.  Only through courageously telling our messy truth and compassionately loving our imperfect selves, can we have connection and it is connection that creates meaning and inspires joy, creativity, belonging, love and power in life.

So, back to you.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? 

I’d be honored to know.  Practice exercising your vulnerability muscle and email me.  Claiming what you want is the first step to creating it.

(BTW-not one woman in the book club secretly desired to take Sheryl Sandburg’s advice and lean in to corporate America.)

Turning Points: tales of transformation-Julie Anderson, Personal Trainer, single mother of 4, advocate for mothers and children

Please welcome Julie Anderson to Turning Points: tales of transformation.  I met Julie several years ago when searching for a gym to get off my baby weight.  Her message of empowering new moms to make themselves a priority resonated with my messaging as a coach.  Schedules didn’t mesh, however, and we fell out of touch.  This fall I noticed a re-emergence of Julie on social media with a new, compassionate tone that appealed to me.  There is a fine line and elusive line between taking care of ourselves and beating ourselves up, particularily when it comes to exercise and weight.  I had an intuitive feeling she had a story to share and I am blown away by the vulnerability and courage she shows in the interview below.  Her story of personal triumph despite heart break will inspire you.

How are you becoming your truest self?

I would say learning to listen to my inner voice and honor that voice. I think I have spent most of my life silencing that voice, living for other people and consequently, not being true to my own dreams and desires and not allowing myself to be who I really am…constantly trying to please others by being what I thought they wanted me to be. I now make a conscious decision to get in tune with myself and my true desires on a daily basis. And always asking myself if I am making choices and decisions “because it matters to me?”

Was there a turning point that brought on your transformation?

Yes, two pretty big ones.

The first was the ending of a romantic relationship. It was the first time I had ever chosen to “love without fear.” I knew from the start that things were not going to end well, but I chose to love anyway, to not be afraid, to receive his love and to accept the consequence that would follow. It was painful, but it taught me that love exists…something I had never experienced before…and that I wanted it. It helped me clarify what true love looked like and what it most certainly, did not. The relationship taught me that I did not need to change who I was or sacrifice my own dreams to be loved by someone else. It impacted every other area of my life when that relationship ended. I chose not to have regrets, but learn the lessons from it. I became stronger, more compassionate, and determined to never settle for less than what I truly want in life – in every aspect.

The second thing was learning that my children had been sexually abused at the hand of my former husband, their father. Protecting them was, and continues to be, my mission. I learned how strong I was. I learned how strong the human spirit is as I saw my children fight for their own happiness, their own right to survive and thrive. I learned the true meaning of unconditional love.

After having these two life-changing events happen in one year, it really taught me that I have to stop searching for validation of my dreams…the fact that they’re my dreams is validation enough. And I decided to start doing what I need to do to move towards them. Life is too short.

How do you get in your own way?

Oh, I’m very good at this. I self-sabotage a lot. I doubt myself. I second guess myself. I seek for answers outside myself.

I catch myself now by being more aware and being present in the moment. When I consider asking others for advice, or having doubtful “mental chatter”…I talk myself out of it. I try to find as many answers within before seeking advice from outside sources. I stop negative mental chatter and focus on what I WANT rather than what I don’t want.

What sets you free?

The realization that the only person that expects me to be perfect…is me. I have these unrealistic expectations for myself, no one else has them for me. Coming to terms with this has helped me to manage my expectations of myself and stop being so unrealistic.

What have you had to let go of to make room for the new?

Expectations. My own and other people’s…mostly letting go of my own expectations in order to no longer feel the need to live up to other people’s expectations. Letting go of that is a work in progress. Every day I work hard at “breaking the habit of being myself”…my old self and reverting back to the habits that have not served me well in the past.

What would you like your legacy to be?

Using my story to empower other women is very important to me. Whatever their struggle is, I want them to know that they have the power to choose different, that they don’t need anybody’s permission to be who they are and follow their dreams. Being a mother, a wife, an employee, a friend, a daughter, a sister, doesn’t mean you have to give up who you are. Strength is a choice.

_MG_8474Julie is a Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, fitness enthusiast and single mother of 4. As a busy mother herself, Julie is especially passionate about helping new moms get their “pre baby bods back” and empowering them to make themselves a priority. In 2008, Julie competed in her first figure competition at the Washington Ironman and found a passion for the sport of bodybuilding. Since then she has competed in 18 more shows and enjoys the personal challenge of the sport. Julie is also a freelance writer and blogger and advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse and domestic violence. https://www.facebook.com/juliesfearlessfitness

Callings-your path to power and ease

We are all here to bring our unique contribution to the world, by listening to and following our calling.  When in alignment with your calling you will experience your greatest joy and fulfillment.  This is the sweet spot where you maximize your contribution.  Your calling doesn’t need to be noble or audacious, it is simply living your life fully, on your own terms.

It sounds simple, so why do we resist becoming our truest selves?

Fear.  A calling pulls you forward, asks you to expand and this feels scary.  Fear wants to protect us so that we stay small and safe, so we block our calling.

It takes courageous self-love to name and claim what fulfills us.  It requires asking for what we want, saying no, disappointing others and it requires that you receive, an underused muscle in most mothers and women.

This is what resisting your calling sounds like.

I don’t have time to …..
If I go back to work I don’t know how I’ll continue to manage the family.
I have no business thinking I could _________(fill in the blank)
I have been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years what would I do?
Calling?  What the heck are you talking about Anne?  I have no idea what I want to do and this whole calling thing is very woo-hoo.

How do you identify your calling?

It is that tiny voice of possibility that pops into your mind and you choose to push away.  That idea, or project or passion that seems unrealistic and too big, yet it keeps making itself known.  It appears in your dreams and lives in your heart.  All it requires is for you to say yes.

Tara Sophia Mohr is an expert on women’s leadership and well being and she has written extensively the topic of callings.  Her work helps women play bigger in their work and in their lives.  Check out this post  How to Recognize Your Calling for some clues on identifying your calling.

I invite you to take some time this week to explore what’s calling you right now.  Create some down time; take a solo walk, journal, paint.  Take five deep, slow breaths and listen to what your heart has to tell you.  I’d love to know what you hear.

Turning Points


When you look back on your life do you see a path of turning points each bringing you closer to who you are today?

turn·ing point a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, esp. one with beneficial results.

I turned 45 this month, a significant turning point. I’ve hit the middle.  I plan on living until I’m at least 90 and I’m halfway there.

Turning points are most easily seen in the rearview mirror, but are those pivotal times where external or internal circumstances drive change. You lose your job, your child goes to college or you get this inner feeling that you want MORE from work or relationships.
You reach a tipping point where your desire to BE YOU, out weighs fears doubts and “shoulds” and you create lasting change.


And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  ~Anais Nin

I’d imagined a my 45th birthday triggering a mid-life crisis, but instead this mid-life mama was ready to celebrate!

I indulged myself and booked a spa day at the health club I practically lived at when the kids were babies.  I hadn’t been there for five years and couldn’t wait to get in my robe and recline next to the fire in the relaxation room.

I parked the car and headed up the steep familiar staircase to the entrance of the club.  As my hand ran along the bannister I was flooded with memories. I climbed those stairs 9 months pregnant dreaming of baby toes and cheeks, I hauled toddlers and baby buckets, I worried about my post partum weight.  I climbed those same stairs hundreds of times. A wave of grief moved through me.  That time of birthing and raising babies was firmly in my past.


The question came “Who am I now?”


I checked in.  A small bouquet of roses greeted me when I opened my locker door. I wrapped myself in the heavy, comforting robe and sat in the silence.  It was delicious.  I had a deep sense of coming home.  There were many turns in the road over the past five years, some sharp, I almost derailed, some subtler, but they all brought me here.

I have new and hard won maturity, wisdom and confidence.  I can remain present to my body and myself.  I fully received the warm bath, the massage, the facial, allowing the luxury and touch to refuel me.  I journaled.  I shed a tear or two for the woman who I was, and I celebrated who I am now.

At the end of the day, renewed and inspired, my hand gently touched the bannister on the way down and I felt a sense of integration, mixed with gratitude and awe.  I am privileged that my innate strengths and gifts allow me to connect deeply with you in service to transformation.  I felt shiny and polished, my light blazing the trail forward.

I am curious about you.  What turning point are you experiencing?  How about your friends? What topics are coming up in your book clubs, coffee clutches, lunches, over a glass of wine?  Where do you want to give or receive more?  Where are you aching for change?  How do you want to create a more meaningful life?

Turning Points: tales of transformation-Jennifer Hotes, Author

FLOWERSI want to welcome Jennifer Hotes as the first guest in my interview series, Turning Point: tales of transformation. I met Jennifer over 10 years ago at the first day of kindergarten.  We both had infants in arms and I was immediately drawn to Jenn’s warm, positive personality.  (There was no evidence of her obsession with the macabre!)  Our daughters are still the best of friends and a few years ago I started hearing “Mrs. Hotes is writing a book.”  Then last spring, who started popping up in my social media world, but Jennifer, promoting her new book, Four Rubbings.  After 13 years as a stay-at-home mom, Jennifer is now a published author with another book on the way.   In this interview Jennifer shares why her life long blood-curdling dreams are a gift, how writing a book can help moms survive adolescence and the importance of her mantra “let go and listen”.

Tell me your story of becoming a writer?

I had a nightmare in the dead of night and told my sister-in-law about it. She insisted that I write it down.  I told her I couldn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to read.  I am an artist, but I have never been a writer.  From that day on, I began to carry a blank notebook with me everywhere and found myself writing down the story of Four Rubbings as I waited for my kids in school pick up line, but I didn’t tell anyone.   Putting a voice to any new endeavor is terrifying.  What if no one took me seriously?  After I filled that first notebook I confided in a few people and the reception was positive, so I kept at it.  Five years later, I’ve published my first book.

Your book came to you in a dream.  Did it feel like calling?  A direct message from the Universe that this work was yours to do to fulfill your purpose?

It took me awhile to agree to the calling, but yes. I’ve always felt a connection to something greater, despite growing up in a “no God!” home.  I believe that life teaches you what you need to know.  I receive exactly what I need when I let go and listen.  I have always had blood-curdling dreams.  (I thank my mom for enduring me as a child!)  I now understand that these dreams are a gift.  Each week I have a dream that sends me in a writing direction and I’m getting better at being in touch with this dark side of myself in my waking hours.

One quality of a calling is that it feels bigger then you.  Just as you describe above, you never thought of yourself as a writer, yet here you are.  How did you develop what you needed as you went through the process of writing your first novel?

When you accept your calling you have to let people help you, which is my Achilles heel. Asking for and receiving help made me feel vulnerable.  Vulnerability is and opportunity to be courageous and courage allows you to expand, but it’s not comfortable.  As I shared my writing, I gained allies that helped to drown out my inner critic.

One of the most terrifying moments of my journey was when my father mistakenly received a copy of my manuscript that was meant to go to my stepmother.  My dad is an accomplished academic writer and I did not want him to read it, you know how we never want to disappoint our dad.  His response was brutal AND honest and enthusiastic.  He said it was great, but it could be better and asked me the turning point question.

“Do you want to be a mom or a writer?”

My manuscript brought the reader to the edge, but if I wanted to be a horror writer I had to leap.

How did your role as wife and mom shift when you committed to writing a novel?

In words, my family supported me, but in reality they wondered where I had gone.  Why wasn’t the laundry done?  Where were the groceries?  My husband loves to work from home and was used to having access to me.  You know motherhood is sugarcoated with guilt.  It wasn’t until I got some momentum that I felt I was entitled to it and that I owed it to myself to honor my writing time.

Did standing strong in your needs benefit your family?

Well, my daughters had to endure me as I learned to be a writer, but in the end they now stand stronger on their own two feet.  My older daughter was the one who told me that I had to finish and publish the book, She said, “Mom, you’re the only one who can tell this story. Write it down!” She was around 13 at the time and we were having a bit of friction, but the book gave us a middle place.  We would go for walks. I would be vulnerable with her about my challenges writing and this gave her permission to be vulnerable about her feelings about growing up.  The book kept our relationship strong and connected in one place during those challenging years and that alone made the whole thing worth it.

My husband has become my biggest champion.  When you write a novel there are ugly parts.  It’s like childbirth.  Right before the last push, you are spent.   You don’t think you can do it.  Doug was right there with me, a stern reminder that I could do it and more then that I had no choice.  He beat up my inner critic for me and Four Rubbings was born.

How did Four Rubbings get published?

I had submitted Four Rubbings to Booktrope Publishing, an indie publisher in Seattle and at that time they were closed for submissions, but asked for the manuscript anyway. I didn’t hear from them, so after a month I decided to self-publish. April 15th was my self-imposed publishing date, and I went into mama bear mode.  I was determined to make this happen!  My copy editor had some personal issues come up and kept delaying.  I was frustrated.  Then I heard this voice within that told me let go and be open hearted, allow her to take care of herself and her family.

In my mind I missed the deadline and scheduled a trip to Disneyland with my 10-year-old .  We were walking around the park and the phone rang.  It was Booktrope offering to publish the book!  Let go and listen.  The Universe tries to fix things for you and if you can just get out of the way things just happen.

 

JennRaised across the Columbia River from a nuclear reactor, Jennifer thought two-headed animals at the county fair were normal until she moved to the big city. Jennifer has been looking at the world through a cracked kaleidoscope since she was born and has been writing since her parents pushed her crib against a blank wall.  You can find the author/illustrator most days in her loft, sketching for the Inventor-in-Training series, or writing the second book in the Stone Witch Trilogy. Fortunate enough to marry her best friend, she and her husband currently reside in the Seattle area with their two daughters, two cats and one unruly puppy. Jennifer is a board member for Providence Hospice of Seattle Foundation and chairs the organization’s largest fundraiser, the annual luncheon. She loves supporting this group of social workers, nurses and chaplains as they walk with families through the hardest path life offers.

Jennifer loves hearing from her readers. Connect with her at: http://www.jenniferlhotes.com or http://www.FourRubbings.com

Forget Balance, Practice Resilience

Balance has become another impossible expectation placed on mothers today.  How often do you hear women say, “If I could just achieve better balance I would be happier?” We head out to yoga, experience a moment of bliss, and return home to a messy house, piles of laundry and a cranky husband.  Then we bludgeon ourselves “If I could only be balanced!”

I’m letting you off the hook.  Balance is over-rated and impossible when raising your families and pursuing your own interests.  Balance implies stasis.  It can only be in that moment when everything is perfectly aligned.  That never happens in my house.  How about you?

no balance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I encourage you to do is ask yourself what specific feelings you’re looking for when you say you want balance.

Why do you want balance?

What will you have when you achieve it?

What do you experience at your best moments?

My quest for balance is really a desire for inner peace, ease and flow.

How about you?  Stop for a minute.  Take a few grounding breathes.  Get into your body.  Read the questions above and simply write down the first words that come to mind.  Settle on three to five words as your touchstones.

So you have your words, now how do you create more of those feelings in your life?  You do things that make you feel this way, you make your to-do list around your words and most importantly you practice resilience. Resilience allows you to recover from adversity and change, which you will encounter, but you always have choice. Practicing resilience will empower you to make those choices grounded in your values, from the inside out.

Resilience feels like surfing to me.  If you go for balance, you have to exert a lot of mom-surfingCONTROL to keep it, so you’re working really hard at it and even if you’re successful, yes, you might miss the lows, but you also miss the highs.  Resilience has fluidity.  You’re on your board; some days there will be killer waves, some days the doldrums.  Resilience is a practice and you will crash and burn.  Your work is not to look for why or beat yourself up, but to get back on the board because you LOVE the thrill and joy of that ride.

How do you develop resilience and practice it when the big waves hit?  I’ve created this Emergency Resilience Cheat Sheet just for you.  You can download it, print it out and stick it on the dashboard of your van to gently remind you how to persevere when your day has gone sideways three times by 8 am.

To hear more on this topic listen to my radio interview with Sandy Fowler at this link http://toginet.com/shows/heartfilledholidays/articles/5224.

Pearls of Wisdom from my Mother’s future 80 year old self.

I am pleased to introduce my mom. Ellen Pillsbury, as a guest writer on my site. Inspired by my recent post,  this is what her future 80 year-old self had to share.

  1. Family-it’s the most important thing in life. Don’t look at what each member does, but be thankful for who they are and who they are becoming.
  2. Accepting what is.
  3. Don’t look back -don’t let the shoulds take over-just make the now the best it can be.
  4. Always surround yourself with young children. Their wonderful innocence is such a gift.
  5. Constantly work on being able to forgive
  6. Allow your friends and loved ones to be their true selves even if you don’t always see eye to eye.
  7. Have compassion be a part of who you truly are –Make it a part of your DNA.
  8. Be thankful you have been given the gift of being a grandmother.  It is the kiss of life!!!
  9. Don’t let a day go by without being grateful for something.
  10. Commitment — uphold it’s true meaning—it’s such an important piece of the puzzle of life!

IMG_0811My mom with 4 of her six grandchildren, or “kisses of life”.

If you would like to share your future wisdom, I will publish your response here.  

 

Pearls of Wisdom from my 80 year old self

In an effort to reconnect with my creativity I am slowly working my way through The Artists Way, by Julia  Cameron. One of the prompts for this week was to write a letter to your current self from your future 80 year old self.  I thought  my  inner 80 year old had some profound wisdom so I’m sharing it with you.

Cherish motherhood.  You will never again have the opportunity to create human beings.  It is exhausting.  You are spread thin and you crave 5 minutes to yourself.  Don’t worry, solitude will come and you’re heart will ache for the days of little ones pulling at your legs and giving you hugs and kisses.

Stay in the moment.  Memories fade and the future only propels you towards mortality.  Magic lies in the now.

Appreciate your body.  You may never be a bikini model, but it birthed your children, and it does whatever you need it to do with minimal complaint.  It remains steadfast when you ignore it, but responds with delight when you nurture it.

Invest in your marriage.  Emotionally.  Spiritually.  Make it a source of joy, support and love.

Move your body.  Do yoga.  Dance.  Feel the rhythm of your bones respond with wild abandon.

Get outside.  Enjoy the spaciousness and wonder of nature.  Breathe fresh air.  Let wonder stir your soul.

Drink water.

Drink wine.  Stay away from whiskey.

Practice gratitude.  There is always a silver lining.

Make time for friendships.  Cultivate them.  Enrich your life with a wide variety of friends.

Travel.  See the world and witness the common threads that bind humanity.

Stay committed to your dreams.  Keep your vision clear, but surrender to the “how” of their manifestation.

Trust.  Have faith.  You are not in control.  When you surrender life has an uncanny way of working out.

Courageously love and nurture yourself.  Steer clear of striving to “become” and accept the perfection of where you are.

Always make the choice that feels easy.  There is no value in making life hard on yourself.

What wisdom would your 80 year old self have for you?  I would love for you to share it with me.