What If We Celebrated How Far We Have Come?

I continue to learn about and experience the nature of What If?
I envision it as a tree.  The questions are like leaves sprouting from branches in a non-linear and organic way. When I sit in the What If Tree and start thinking, it’s hard to stop new leaves from sprouting. Here is my imagined image of a What If tree:
What If Tree
What if we celebrated how far we have come?  This question does not assume that life has been all peaches n’ cream and easy street and happiness all the time.  That’s not usually how life works in my experience. I believe the beauty and the richness of life is in the inevitable contrasts. My question doesn’t necessarily point to material “success” either.  I want this question to honor the struggles and challenges we have faced in the past while being spacious enough to include the celebration of who we have become.
What if we stopped and breathed and thought back to 5 years ago and what’s happened since then, who you have become, who has come into your life, and so on.  What would you celebrate?
Write it down. Read it out loud to yourself.
What if we stopped and breathed and thought back to 10 years ago. What would you celebrate then?
Write it down. Read it out loud to yourself.
Now, go back 15 years and who you were then, what you were doing, what you were struggling with, who you were being.  What would you celebrate about who you are now?
Write it down. Read it out loud to yourself.
Who is avoiding writing it down and/or reading it out loud to yourself?  What’s underneath that?  I know something that’s true for me in certain moments is that I can have difficulty celebrating success or appreciating myself.  I tend to deflect attention by looking for areas of improvement vs. savoring what I feel good about.  Here goes the leaf-sprouted What If question:
What if we appreciated ourselves more right this very moment?
Self-acceptance popped into my head.  I wasn’t intending to go there when I started writing.   This may be a leaf on the celebration branch of the What if Tree.  I will ponder that over the coming weeks. For those who want to dive deeper on that topic here are 8 Techniques for Self-Acceptance.
If I think back 5 years ago and see how far I’ve come, one thing I’d celebrate is how I’m a more present and patient mother.  It took many difficult moments and failures on my part to move the dial in this area and today I’m celebrating it!  My 5 year old actually yelled at me during a recent tantrum “STOP BEING SO NICE TO ME!”  I thought to myself “Wow, there’s a silver lining in this moment!”
If I think back 10 years ago and see how far I’ve come, something I’d celebrate is that I’ve identified many things that energize me and I’m more intentional about how I spend my time on these things.  This doesn’t mean I’ve perfected it!  It means I’ve moved the needle in a big way vs. 10 years ago – enough to make an impact in my own life and those around me.  The clarity that comes from knowing my values and what energizes me makes decision-making that much easier for me.  I still stumble around at times with my decisions but I’ve accepted that is part of how I operate.
If I think back 15 years ago and see how far I’ve come, one thing I’d celebrate is how much better I know and accept myself.  15 years ago I was 23 years old.  I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know what I wanted, I was unsure of myself, I knew I could make other people happy but had no idea what made me tick.  Right now, I’m celebrating the goodness in my life like my loving husband, three spirited kiddos, and my commitment to living life to the fullest in a way that is authentic to me and who/what I care about.
It feels like I’m on a road trip where there have been great memories, painful memories, flat tires, hilarious encounters, detours, successes, delays, interesting characters and so on.  Right now,  I’ve pulled off the road to enjoy the scenic overlook.
scenic vista
What are you celebrating?

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