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Every September arrives with the promise of a new beginning. Though some consider it harvest time, since I have a September birthday, it has always meant a fresh start to me, with twelve untouched and brand new months ahead of me waiting to be lived.

When I was younger, I used to be flippant about new birthday years. I didn't take stock of the year I had just finished living, nor did I stop to contemplate what magic awaited me ahead. As the years pass, birthdays are becoming both more meaningful and more challenging. They now arrive with some regrets for the intentions I set but did not live, sadness for the losses that I experienced during the year, and also immense gratitude for being alive to celebrate another birthday.

This year's birthday was one of the hardest. I have a few years in my life where I sleepwalked through the year, putting one foot in front of the other, praying for the strength to survive. The year I just finished is up there with those years. What makes it even sadder is that there were so many blessings in this challenging year that I did not, could not take the time to celebrate. Some days, just waking up was a win. I broke my own heart more often than I wanted, sometimes knowingly and sometimes only realizing it in hindsight. But it is now over. It is in my rearview mirror. Time to pull the new birthday year into a soft and loving embrace and tell her, "I'll do better by you this year, pinky promise."

I long to be more fully awake to my life this year because I don't want to spend another year asleep at the wheel. But I honestly do not have a clue what that even means. Or what it looks like when I am fully awake to my life. I cannot remember the last time I felt awake in my own life, but I can remember with clarity that most of the year, I kept wishing I was anywhere but here. There is this wistfulness inside me for all the places where I am not. My feet itch, wanting to keep moving, and my heart yearns for the unfamiliar smells and sounds of new places I am yet to be, wanting to add my voice and smell, making the new places a bit mine before I can move on. Is it because I just cannot seem to find "home" where I feel I belong just yet?

I read a book recently that left my heart even more unsettled, wanting, needing, lusting for something new, different, something I haven’t tasted or lived yet... the book was about the art of leaving and also the art of staying.

I know I have almost mastered the art of leaving, but I am far from mastering the art of staying. I wonder if this is the birthday year, my heart and soul will feel we belong, and we stay... present and awake in the life we are living.


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