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There are all kinds of milestones. Exciting, fun, sad, difficult, rare, common, goal, and achievement milestones. No matter the milestone we are navigating, our experiences will differ based on the story we attach to the milestone and our ability to discern truth from the stories we generate. 

Over the last month, our family has had two big milestones. Our oldest daughter turned 21 and I turned 50. When you reach these notable birthday milestones, friends, family, and even strangers immediately respond to the number of times you have rotated around the sun. I hear things like, “Enjoy your special day!”,  “How does it feel to be half a century old?”, “Do you feel different?”, “Age is just a number.”  The reactions and comments could fill a book. None of these are bad or good, they just are. The interesting thing is tuning into what these milestones and the questions, expectations, and comments that come with them, bring up for us. What stories do we tell ourselves in these milestone moments that result in conditioned responses and reactions that either have us pivoting away from or leaning into our authentic self and intentions?

Taking time to individually reflect upon what each milestone means to us and what is most important about our experiences with them sets a strong foundation. From there, we create space to pause, reflect, and bring awareness to what these milestones bring up for us as they are unfolding, so we can intentionally shape how we engage with them and the expectations and comments surrounding them. 

For me and my 50th birthday, it’s been important to carve out moments to pause and reflect upon where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to go next. I get the opportunity to look back at my life, thus far, spread out over 5 decades, and appreciate what I have experienced and learned and what I choose to take with me going forward. My first 2 decades were about childhood, family and juggling school and synchronized swimming.  Much of my core identity was established and deeply rooted into my DNA during this time. My 3rd decade was about transitioning into marriage, parenthood, and trying to find my place in the workforce. It felt like the wild west of figuring out who I was while finding a profession, and deciphering motherhood. I was operating in a chaotic state mostly in survival mode. My 4th decade was about establishing myself and growing in my career, settling into raising our girls as a working mom, and navigating what marriage and true partnership looked like. I continued to operate without a clear North Star, yet always moving forward driven to find relevance and accomplish more. 

My 5th decade has been a pendulum swinging from a deepening intensity and focus without boundaries, drawing from my “prove and perform” identity and skills, to an honest conscious awareness and clarity, learning who I am authentically and how I want to show up as a mother, wife, friend and professional. The pendulum has now settled into an intentional practice honoring what I value and who I am, continually striving to bring ease and grace into my life. There is so much to draw from and reflect upon in my first 5 decades that makes me appreciate the unconscious path I was on and the intentional work I have done to move into consciousness and be and do better. That is what I’m celebrating on this 50th milestone! I’m sharing it as a gift to myself to recognize my growth and evolution behind my 50 years. Maybe this can be an inspiration to you to do the same for whatever milestone you are navigating.

As you blow out the candles on your next birthday cake or honor a milestone in silence, sort through the fabricated stories in your head attached to expectations and reactions vs the truth. Tune into the importance and relevance of the milestone for you. Call out and write down the importance, journey of successes and failures, and the learnings you take forward. Try sharing your reflection and commit to doing something in honor or celebration of it and you. 

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