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As the kids ended last week with excitement and anticipation for their upcoming Spring Break, the change of seasons from winter to spring got me thinking about the seasons we each go through in our lives. As one season changes, the closing of a chapter, we begin to write the next. And while each calendar year brings four seasons, those in our life can last much longer. Years and sometimes decades.

As I am now navigating through a new season in my own life, I find that I need to keep reminding myself to look forward not back. To embrace that which is right in front of me and lean into this next season, a season of trust.

Someone once said to me, “when you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you are peeing all over the present.” Charming, I know. And while the idea of my friend straddling the present isn’t exactly the image I want stuck with me throughout the day, I appreciate the wisdom behind the words.

Being back on the other side of the world, I keep reminding myself the last two years actually happened. The initial jolt of being back – a changed person in a familiar place while at the same time things were different – wasn’t easy. I still have moments, as change brings uncertainty. But the thing I have really leaned into in this new season of life for the kids and I is focusing on all the good –  lessons learned, adventures had, friendships formed – and when the reflective moments are done, being able to bring it back to the present with a sense of peace and trust.

I don’t know why certain things have happened or why certain things are the way they are, but I trust there is a reason.

A few weeks ago, as I was unpacking the house, I happened to come across a box of old journals. Entries dating back to my freshman year in college. Almost 25 years of words scribbled across the pages.

As I read, there were times when I didn’t even recognize the person writing, and others where the pieces of me that were meant to remain and evolve have – a sense of wonder, values like truth and honesty, priorities like family and friends, and a passionate desire to make the world a better place. But the difference between then and now is experience, wisdom. The knowledge of knowing seasons will change, friendships will come and go, relationships may end and that despite the difficulty of those things as they are happening, they also allow for growth to take place.

Page upon page, it was a journey through life in my own words. From the day I graduated college, to the moment I packed up my car and headed west to Los Angeles. Years later, when I would compete at Miss USA. The move to NYC. The job opportunity in Nashville. Finding out I was pregnant. The ups and downs of life. Deciding to make the move to Australia.

All those moments, in my own words, at exactly the precise time I was living them.

From season to season, chapter to chapter.  

And while the trip down memory lane was a fun opportunity to look back and see the growth and evolution in my own life, continuing to focus on moments from our past, however painful or joyous they may be, can become distractions from the here and now.

Sure, it is fun to reminisce, particularly stories that make us laugh and bring us back to hysterical moments among friends, or those that have provided tremendous lessons and monumental growth, but that is the extent of the necessity in the present.

Moments to share. Stories to tell.

When the feelings associated with our past experiences override our ability to experience joy today, we end up stuck, hypothetically ‘peeing on the present.’

The same can be said for holding on to friendships or relationships that aren’t meant to travel with us into the next season. It leaves little to no room to embrace the new and clouds our ability to see what is right in front of us. To be grateful for today.

Letting go of old experiences doesn’t negate the fact that you went through them, but it certainly will free you to participate in life today.

Just as seasons change, humans change as well. A shedding of leaves, flowers that bloom, rainfalls that cleanse. But unlike nature, humans need to be willing to go through those changes, to face the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts. But one thing is certain, with pain comes growth. Sometimes pain is necessary to push us to become the person we are meant to be.

The last few months, the last few years, and the last decade have brought moments of sheer joy and moments of extreme pain. All of which collectively make up a certain season in my own life. And when I allow myself to look back on it with a peaceful heart – letting go of how I thought life was supposed to look or holding on to the ‘should haves’  – I am able to be grateful for every moment, both good and bad.

Experience teaches us that nothing in life is certain. There are no guarantees. Seasons change. We change. And when we allow ourselves to do so from a place of grace and acceptance, something new begins to take shape, a new chapter begins to unfold.

Since being back, I have realized certain things have changed while others remain the same. And when I allow myself to look back on everything with gratitude – no regrets – I see clearly and can embrace the here and now. Trusting that the next chapter will be the best one yet.

Cheers to a new week, a new season, and being grateful for everything that brought you to this exact moment!

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