25 years ago…
A 5-year-old girl with long brown hair, highlighted by the sun, and a smooth, tanned forehead, daydreams about her future. Her favorite animal is a toss-up between a pink flamingo and a unicorn (because they ARE real), but she desperately wants her own dog. Her favorite color is rainbow with a splash of glitter. She wears flowy, neon-striped dresses that twirl and bright paint-splattered leggings. A perm is not far on the horizon, but in the meantime, she wears bows and flowers with the fascination and care of a truly feminine soul. Her arms adorned with temporary tattoos, stamps, and chalk, she dances with abandon, with little thought as to how she’s perceived.
Her nearest dream is to become a big sister. Her grander dreams of writing books and painting the lilies in Monet’s garden are far enough away that she can fearlessly hold them close, fully believing that one day, she will listen to her heart’s call.
She feels her feelings and shares them with the world because she has yet to feel the shame of being too much.
She knows her truth, and she lives her worth because she has yet to question (or learn) otherwise.
75 years later…
An 80-year-old woman in a hospital bed (who has either aged gracefully or has decided to dye her hair all colors of the rainbow simply because she’s old and she can do what she wants) is remembering the past while living in the present. Arms adorned with tattoos and her face lined with wrinkles earned through a life of laughter, love, and loss, the impact of time is undeniable. However, she doesn’t want to deny it because each crease in her face marks the feelings and smiles of a life fully lived.
She is in the moment, even as she is running out of time. She makes space for the people she loves and the memories she treasures. She writes and paints as long as her shaking hands allow her to, less worried about the product and more present with the act of creating. She cherishes the memories of painting in Monet’s garden, even while she has embraced painting the beauty of what’s in front of her.
She feels her feelings and shares them with the world because she has learned that she is enough, even when she feels like she’s too much. Besides, there are worse things than being too much.
She knows her truth, and she lives her worth because she has found value in being present with the questioning, the messing up, and the receiving grace. She has lived, and now she lives fearlessly, even in the face of the unknown end.
I just ended my third decade of life and I’m bounding into my 30s with a new doctorate (and the “fine lines” on my forehead to go with it). My hair is darker and my skin paler, because the winters are long and sun is scarce where I live now. I don’t have any tattoos yet, but maybe one day. Unicorns continue to make me smile, and not only do I finally have my own dog (two, in fact!), I have a new favorite color (green). Yet, that doesn’t stop me from embracing ALL the colors, any chance I can.
The transition from one decade to the next has been a season of choosing. Choosing a new job, a new home…choosing how to fill my time in this new life and decade. Choosing my people, and choosing how to love them well. Choosing how to love myself (fine lines and all). Yet, for me, with every choice comes the shame and the fear, the “shoulds” and “what ifs.”
Should I choose this job because it’s more practical?
What if I make the wrong choice? What if I hurt someone with the choice I make?
Should I try to please *insert random person here*? What if I can’t make them happy?
What if I fail? What if someone discovers that I’m not what they thought? What if I’m not enough or I’m too much?
In those moments of questioning, I have learned to ask myself this question instead:
What would Little Girl Miranda and Deathbed Miranda choose?
And as I’ve grown to know myself, I am more able to reflect on who I once was, before the shame crept in, and who I will be, once the shame and fear don’t have power over me. I can consult the truest versions of myself and attempt to live that truth in the present. I can draw courage from the little girl part of me that sees possibility in everything, including herself. I can find wisdom from the older part of me that understands that time isn’t endless, and living from a place of fear and shame takes away that precious time. When I go inward and consult these parts of me, I know my values. And with that, comes clarity.
Through their eyes, I am able to see the whole of my life free from shame and fear. They remind me that life is brief, and the time for painting, exploring, loving, and twirling is now. I owe it to them to take risks and find the joy that awaits. I owe it to them to try, even if I fail. I owe it to them to honor myself, remembering that in the honoring, I can help others honor their truest selves, too.
I owe it to myself to paint the blank canvases and write the untold stories…to embrace color and to love well. After all, what else would Little Girl Miranda and Deathbed Miranda choose?
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