This is 34

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I’ve finally started waking up early again. It’s 4:45am as I write this and my office is cold buy my coffee is hot and somehow the two battle it out and the coffee wins and I’m not as numb as I expect to be. Beyond the sheer curtains and the windows behind them, snow is still falling lightly, sprinkling the tops of who knows how many inches that already lay on the ground. When I went to bed last night, the snow sparkled under the glare of the street lamps in a way that looked almost magical and I hope that glitter affect remains this morning so that when the little ones wake we can talk of Elsa and fractals and carry that sparkle right through this snow day.

This is 34. Waking early, getting a head start on the snow day, happiness for coffee to hold off the cold, and wishing for magic.

34 is also reaching this point, this moment of reflection and writing about another year around the sun, a week late. Because 34, it seems, is life moving like lightening across a night sky. It is deceptively long days with hours that pass in a blink. It’s more mothering and less working and somehow more working too. Or, perhaps, less writing, more working. It’s not realizing that the balance has shifted until it’s too late to fix without a bit of freefall. 34, so far, is a lifetime of dreams all wandering up to me all at the same time and me realizing that my hands are already too full to grasp them all and having to figure out what to drop and in what order to drop them.

A few days ago I let sleep drop. I’m curious to see what falls next.

At the beginning of 2015, I had a premonition that before the clock turns to 2016, my life, the life of my family, will look nothing at all as it does today. I can already feel the winds changing and although I am not given to premonitions or belief that I have an inkling, ever, what the future holds, I can already feel that seed of thought growing. Which means that 34 is going to morph me and change the landscape around me. When I look back on 33, I know that I’ll see family and love and smiles and a foursome hitting their stride together. When I look back on 34, I’m pretty sure it will take my breath away.

Usually, at this point, I launch into a list of things I’ve learned in the year gone by. I mix the silly with the serious and gather all that I can from the age I lived through for a while. Sometimes I even email myself little nuggets as the year churns so that I’ll remember when I get to this moment. But I didn’t do that this year. I’ve got no little email reminders of the things I gathered during my time with 33. I suspect that is because there was a lot of living to do with 33 and a lot of love and a lot of big. A handful of things that were scary, moments that I knew would draw lines, those lines where everything that came before looks one way and everything that came after looks another.

And so the lesson I’m taking away from all of that is the incredible importance of leaping. That life, truly living, is giving yourself a running start, squeezing your eyes shut, and just launching into the air, holding onto faith that a net will materialize before you reach the ground and squeezing the hands of those who love and support you all the way down and so tightly that you may even cut off circulation but you know they won’t care. Leap, but never leap alone, is what I’ve learned.

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Leap into a trip with your family that you never dreamed you’d take. Leap out of a place that has been safe and that has felt like home. Leap into a dream and make it a reality just by your very presence. Leap into a weekend that intimidates you. Leap into a world that terrifies you. Leap into sharing and honesty and telling your story.

And if you do all of that, all of that leaping in one single year, expect pain. Expect a moment or two (or more) when you can barely move from the weight of the falling. Expect tears. Single tears dropping quietly and full-on, body-shaking sobs. Expect moments in between the leaps and expect that they will feel like moving backwards even if they aren’t. Expect that you will land from your leap and turn around to find the people you love but not be able to reach them. Expect that it may take a little while before you reconnect. But expect to reconnect.

And when the year is over, expect to have fallen in love with leaping. Expect to be nostalgic for yesterday and the feeling of flying through the air. Expect to feel a little out of place, a little unsure how to keep it up, a little wary of leaping on legs that are another year older. Expect to take a beat or two to gather up the courage to keep at it, to gather up the resources and confidence, to need to find a new stride to launch you into the air. But, after all of that, I hope that you can expect to keep leaping. I’ll be sure to let you know. 51 weeks from now.

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