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You Are Only Just Beginning

Uncategorized Jun 01, 2023

 I want to speak to all my friends in the messy middle of raising children, or in the messy middle of mid-life, and speak to this idea, what if we are only just beginning?

It might feel like a stretch.

It did for me at first. I mean, I have five decades under my belt now! And I feel it in my body. And it shows on my face. There are battle wounds.

But what if. . . .I am only just beginning my friend? And what if YOU are only just beginning, even though you’ve already done so much and have made it this far?

I want to talk about this idea that we can always choose to decide how to think about our lives as they stretch onward ahead of us, we can think of them as a fresh, clean slate full of possibility. We can have a fresh, clean start when we’re fifty years old on a Tuesday afternoon. Or we can have a fresh, clean start when we’re 38 on a Thursday evening.

Do you allow yourself to think of your life as only just beginning? 

My daughter, she’s 22 and she’s graduating college, she’s worked so hard, she’s tired - or exhausted rather, and it’s easy for me to say to her, “honey, you are only just beginning.” And I have said that to her. But she looks back on the long haul of a music degree, the all-nighters in the studio, and she IS excited, but she’s also so tired! Haha -  it’s hard to grasp for her, even at her young age. 

It can feel like a stretch to believe you are only just beginning. I get it. 

But one of the first things we have to question, if we want to take responsibility for our own happiness, is that we have the privilege, the agency, and even the right to believe new things about ourselves anytime we want.  Believing new things in an empowering way where you get to decide the course of your life at any given time.  You get to recommit to what it is that is most important to you. 

Because you are only just beginning. 

In order to really embrace this idea, I want to offer a few lessons to help prepare you for your journey ahead. 

Again, these ideas all come from the book, You Are Only Just Beginning by Morgan Harper Nichols, which I highly recommend. It’s truly a gorgeous book with her colorful artwork and poetry. I’ll link it in the shownotes. 

These lessons come from Mother Nature, who knows a thing or two about reinvention and new beginnings. 


Lesson #1 - you are only just beginning, lessons learned from the sunlight. 

The sun is the most constant thing in our solar system. Always there, always shining. And yet, with every sunset, we are reminded that the sun gets to reinvent herself with each new sunrise with each new day. And aren’t we the same? Aren’t we able to paint with each new day, a new array of color on the new day with our own light and warmth we bring to those within our sphere of influence? 

What if, whenever you look up and notice the sun in the sky, you could remember that just like the sun, you are only just beginning each new day, full of possibility, full of light, and remember the radiant truth that there is more to you than the past, there is more to your story because you are only just beginning. 

If the sun can rise and ease into a new day, each day, then so can you. So can I. We are free to slowly rise into our wisdom, our creativity, our dreams that haven’t yet come into the light. If the sun rises slowly with each new day, then so can we. 

Isn’t that a cool way to think about your life? 

One of the ways I like to remind myself that I am only just beginning is to remember how the sunlight in the morning has never been the same sunlight as the morning or the day before. It is new light. And it never stagnates. It is flowing and free and it moves effortless towards its journey across the sky, day after day in a unique way, gracing us all without even trying, pacing itself, not in any hurry. 

And every beam of sunlight can be a fresh reminder to me of my own calling to show up, to open up to new adventures. No matter how many days I’ve traversed in the past, there is more for me just up ahead. 

Sunlight also reminds me that there’s no turning back. New days are coming whether I like it or not. So I might as well allow it with an open heart.

I am accepting the wrinkles on my face that have shown up little by little from years of laughing and crying and cringing and holding on tight for dear life. My face carries memories now. 

The lesson of the sun and sunlight shows me that even though I’d love to go back in time, I’d do anything to go back in time sometimes, but the sun reminds me that we were made to travel onward. 

And so I let the light be my guide. 

Light will continue to be my guide. Because I am only just beginning. And so are you. We are like the sunlight. It’s a beautiful way to think about things, isn’t it?

Lesson #2 - you are only just beginning, lessons learned from elephants, 

Stay with me on this one because it’s super important. 


I coach people of all ages, from teenagers to young adults to young moms to midlife moms to grandmas. And a few brave men, too. And one of the themes that causes the most pain no matter the age is feeling alone, or loneliness, or wishing there were more people who are ‘your people.’


Recently, On this trip to Italy, I was invited by two American-Italian sisters I’ve known since our kids were little, I remember when they first moved into my area I wanted to be their friend. But how? Do I walk up to them and say, ‘Hey! I want to be friends with you!’ I wish I could say I was that brave. But that’s not what happened. It happened over a few shy exchanges over the years, slowly, and I smile now about how it happened, and yet it was always right there in front of me!


People and elephants have a lot in common when it comes to being relationship creatures. and how important it is to keep finding your people, it is never too late. You are only just beginning with creating community. 


Elephants play and fight and reconcile, they soothe their crying babies and hold funerals for their deceased. They are present to themselves and each other. All of those things create community. Each herd is led by a single matriarch, the rest of the herd looks to her for guidance and wisdom. They rely on one another for protection from danger and they don’t ever travel alone. 


As I get older, and think about how I am only just beginning, elephants remind me to stay connected to my herd, and to keep bringing people into my community, and to own my role as a matriarch and to lead with my wisdom. 


Sometimes my herd changes. Members move away. Life gets busy.  Even though I’m constantly connected on social media, I have to remind myself to truly do connecting things with real humans in real time. Real connecting.


Elephants were made for staying connected to each other. And so are humans. It’s a beautiful truth and a beautiful reality to need other people. But it also can cause a lot of pain. 


Finding your people can feel like an overwhelming task, and many of us struggle through it. I think that’s okay!! I want to encourage you to always be willing to find your people, even if it’s been a struggle sometimes. 


What if you are only just beginning in finding your people and building community? 


On the plane ride to Italy, I watched the movie, A Man Named Otto with Tom Hanks. Have you seen this movie? 


He is an old man who was only just beginning to find his community, his herd, his sense of purpose that was bigger than himself. I sat and thought about that movie for a while after it finished and I cried just feeling so sad for how we can isolate ourselves in the very moments we need people the most. 


Finding your people doesn’t mean you have to add more people, it might mean to truly connect to the people already within your herd. 


Or, it can mean adding more people to your herd too. But be willing to find your people and truly connect in a way that cultivates meaning. We need each other for the journey that lies ahead. We need each other’s wisdom and life experience to draw from. 


What if you are only just beginning with connecting in a richer, deeper way?


Be present with the people you interact with, however you can, through your words, your time, your passions, whatever it is you have to give, do your best, open your ears, your heart, and stand tall with your people. 


Trust that there is more goodness to come as you continue to find your people as you get older. Be a good friend. Laugh with those who enjoy laughing. Cry with those who need to cry. Show gratitude for every little moment you have to make someone feel seen. 


Create those opportunities, be willing to go first if they aren’t coming to you. 


This is community. Elephants teach us lessons about how to be better humans. Sometimes we have to take action and find our people by showing more compassion and opening our heart a little more wide. And sometimes, the best thing to do is be a loving presence for someone. Love is always calling to us and is always available to us. Search for it and you’ll find it. Love is always just beginning. And so are you. 


Lesson # 3 comes from climbing roses: what we learn about you are only just beginning and climbing roses is that unlike most roses, the climbing rose blooms multiple times within a season, and nearly all varieties are perennial, flowering again and again year after year. What a dream come true!


The plant needs some care and gentle tending to all year long, the vines need to be trained, but oh what a reward when they are cared for by someone who knows just what they need in order to thrive.


I like to think that God is my master pruner, my loving and wise master gardener, and I am a climbing rose under His tender care. 


Much like the climbing rose, I have seasons of flourishing and I have seasons of going inward and saving my strength. But I know, regardless of the season, I owe it to myself to honor each season for what it is and not force myself to be more than what I am meant to be. I also know that pruning my life and training my heart to climb is important for my survival. 


As I choose to plan out my path of growth moving forward, as I set out into my future, I have to give myself permission to start over again. 


The longer I live, the more stories I will have to tell, the more experiences I will likely collect along the way - both heartbreak and triumph, each is a bloom worthy of sharing. 


Climbing roses give us hope that it is possible for goodness to return again and again. We can always begin again. They spend all winter in silent meditation, nurturing the belief that the sky is the limit. 


Then, they trust the timing of nature to unfold slowly, and climb to new heights. But only when they’re ready. 


They believe in new beginnings. They trust the gardener to bring the garden back to life each spring. 


And so can I. 


Morgan Harper Nichols says this on one of her pages, 


“Like every petal slowly unfolding in sptringime bloom, may that little bud of courage unfold inside you, too.”


I love that. I’ll say it again.


“Like every petal slowly unfolding in sptringime bloom, may that little bud of courage unfold inside you, too.”


What a gift it is to live in a world where at any given moment we can receive the grace of a new season, a second chance, a new beginning.


Grace is tenacious in its tireless offering to start again, to receive its humble offering over and over again, for all of time, for as long as the sun rises and sets with each new day. 


Grace is the reason we can say we are only just beginning. 


What a gift. 


I hope you believe in the best of ways, in grace. 

I hope you believe in the best of ways, that you are only just beginning. 


Life will still be 50/50, always the 50/50 whether it’s sunlight or darkness, connection or loneliness, springtime or wintertime, pruning time or blooming time. That is part of it. 


But we can still grow as much as we can. We can still learn as much as we can. We can evolve and live and love as much as we can. 


Open your heart to the idea that you are only just beginning. 

Because you are. 

You are only just beginning. 

Really let that notion sink deep into your bones. Let it sink deep into your heart, and let it take root and blossom and bloom.

You are only just beginning. 

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