Carrie Bradshaw said in the first and preferred "Sex and the City" movie to Louise, from St. Louis, "have fun, that's what your twenties are for. Your thirties are for the lessons. Your forties are to pay for the drinks." Well, thank you, Carrie, for that extremely accurate synopsis of the last decade in my life.
So, in just a few short days, three to be specific, I will be turn thirty eight. Ugh... is my first reaction. While Carrie's commentary clearly stresses the fact that she is indeed the 40 year old-paying for the drinks-kind-of- friend, I am not quite there yet. What is relevant to me and my current state of birthday denial and extreme desire to forfeit turning a year older, I do have to admit she is oh so right.
Lessons learned in your thirties should be the title of this entry, but the decade is not over, so I won't wrap things up presuming I have learned everything in life in eight years and am ready to move on to bigger and better things. There are two more left in this lovely collection of years that will soon add up to ten. Ten! My son is ten. It's been ten years since I became a mother, which in fact, has been a gift, a role, yes, a lesson, I have only learned and embrace with all my heart, in my thirties. I am grateful for that, especially in the last year. Because if I wasn't ever described as a Mama Bear ready to aim her claws at ANYONE who attempts or stupidly admits to hurting my child, I am one now. So beware...Smile! ;)
My thirties sure have been eventful. Some events, sad to say, not as joyful, as others, however challenging, welcomed and undeniably necessary. I remember the big bash my family threw me for my 30th. Jess' Italian Bistro. My dad and my brother came from Puerto Rico. It was a very happy time, while short-lived, full of fun memories and the best pics of a blond Luis, two at the time, hanging out with his uncle Jerry.
For some reason when I turned 31, I thought I was falling from the peak of a mountain top. I had reached my peak, in my head, in my heart. It was not fun and we will leave it at that. The next few years brought the lessons we only sign up for by living, the ones that you are not taught in the classroom, but by life itself. These are the lessons I thought I never had to take, especially pass, but here I was, sitting in the front row of "THIS IS YOUR LIFE: What are you going to do with it?" Section 455. That's advanced and upper level, in case you are wondering and the grading scale: PASS or FAIL.
Separation, moving out of the country, attempting to start a new life, while desperately trying to reconnect with an old one to no avail, new jobs, new/old everything, divorce, redefining life "as I knew it.", or so I thought. Can I just write a paper and be done? I am good at that? Voice steps in: Nope. Live, that is what you must do... and figure it out.
Ok, STOP! If you are sad, feel sorry for the things happened, please STOP! Yes, thank you Upstairs. This is meant for the reader as well as for myself. A nice little nudge to focus on the positive is needed occasionally. You see, what I lived and experienced here, and there, and everywhere, trying to get out of a fog that was keeping me from seeing things clearly, was part of the class. Was it difficult? Of course! Breakthrough! As an adult, my process of awakening began. I was 33. An acute sense of awareness began to rise and my voice was starting to get loud.
It was the time when Beyonce so beautifully belted out "Listen." Between that song and "Patience" my life was becoming a side storyline in "Dreamgirls." In a nutshell, what I was living was a series of life experiences, which included being labeled as a "single-mom", "divorced" and God only knows what else, because I know there were more. But you know, what? Through it all, somehow, no matter how much I have questioned God, yes, YOU upstairs, (the why's, oh, yes, the why this and why that...) you never left my side. Honestly, and it may sound cheesy, but my faith has been my only loyal and true companion through the last eight crazy years in the rollercoaster of my life.
I prayed to get out of a situation, in which staying put, the socially acceptable alternative, was worse than running and taking the heat for it. I prayed for clarity and understanding of old folk tales that haunted my memory. I prayed for a new opportunities that challenged me in the most remarkable ways. My prayers have been answered, slowly, but surely. I continue to pray for patience and that in the last two years of my thirties I am more patient and understanding of circumstances that are beyond my control, perhaps not meant to be... or meant to be a certain way, not my way. I will continue to pray for life, love, second chances, friendship and for the notion that I will expire at 40 to go away. You are all welcome to help me with that one. ;)
In the last eight years I have learned to appreciate who I am. In the last eight years I have found my voice. In the last eight years I have been blessed with having incredibly loving people come into my life, leave my life, come into my life again, and so on. Thanks to them, the lessons continue. In the last years I have watched my son grow up and become a smart, beautiful and thoughtful boy, who teaches me every day to be patient and to listen... In the last eight years skills have sharpened and passions for causes that include educating the poor, inspiring generosity in others and finding ways to provide access to students who want it, not just need it, help me get up every morning.