This photo of me as a little girl reappeared in my life this past autumn.
It was part of a beautiful book my cousin put together for me. Inside are loads of pictures, inspiring quotations, and heartfelt messages from family and friends.
On my first look through the book, my mom pointed out this photo and said that it perfectly captures who I was as a child. I smiled at the thought and flipped to the next page.
Later that night, I gazed at the photo again. With tears in my eyes, I looked at this little girl and realized that I hardly recognized her. I felt the tremendous gap between who it appears I was then and who I am now. I started to wonder, when did that sparkle in my eyes start to fade? How had life come to tear me so far away from who I used to be?
And then gradually I concluded that this wasn’t just a distant person I used to know.
I thought, THIS is the real me.
This genuine joy. This enthusiasm. This love of life.
It’s all still there.
Some of it just happened to become hidden under layers and layers of life experiences–the ones that change all of us.
And while we can’t take away any of the experiences that caused us pain or caused us to change into whoever we thought the world wanted us to be, we CAN call the child within us home. We can choose to wrap that little girl or little boy up in love. And we can find ways to honor their bright spirit wherever we are now.
Just as I thought to myself that night, this is it; this is my opportunity to fall in love with that little girl again and let the light within her shine.
More and more, I keep getting the sense that life and the challenges we face are less about needing to fix or change anything about ourselves, and more about learning to deeply love and fully accept ourselves.
In each moment that you choose to treat yourself with love and kindness, it brings a new kind of joy into being; a joy that does not depend on circumstances, a joy that allows your body to breathe a sigh of relief, and a joy that helps you relax into a deep sense of peace.
Care to give it a try? Let me know over on the Facebook page. :)