It’s funny how life works. It’s like the alarm goes off and it begins again. You take on the day – dealing with the crap-ton of things that come your way – and then find your ways to decompress only to prepare for the alarm to sound again and it’s off to the races.

When you are deep in the cycle it is hard to see beyond your task list, your kids school project, that thing your boss asked you to do, the thing you volunteered for that you have no time for, a family obligation…whatever it is, it is easy to get bogged in checking things off the list and trying to move the ball forward. I have come to realize that I’ve never really lived for the journey…that is until now.

You may be saying – “Well, who does!” We all have the pressures of life that make it feel impossible to live for the long and winding road. But, why does that stop us? It hit me hard because, for those of you who know me, my motto has always been “carpe diem” – but as I really look at it, seizing the day has always been about a goal – a vision in my head that I want to achieve, something I desire badly or want to/need to experience. My life hasn’t been about seeing where the road can take me…it’s been about how I’ve paved the road up ahead. The past year has been one of gentle winding roads that lead into hairpin turns – never really knowing what will be waiting around the corner. When you are used to controlling every bit of where your life goes, it’s hard to say: “Today, I am going to let it roll. See where the road takes me. Experience what life throws my way.” It’s like my personal demons sit on my shoulders and tell me: “Shelly, baby, that is crazy nonsense – you can’t possibly handle all of that uncertainty!!” Well, to my personal demons, I tell you that you are wrong. I am thankful for this past year’s roadtrip – it has helped me live for the journey and not for the stake in the ground that I planted 500 feet down the road. I will always be ambitious, vivacious and, as my mother says, “A girl who reaches for the stars.” But I am grateful to have spent the past year enjoying the winding roads and steering through the cliff-dangling turns only to find myself on the other side with my hair windswept, my lipstick slightly messed-up and my joy for living more present than ever. I have learned a lot about my short-comings, things that make me human and things that I need to – want to – improve. I have learned that what makes me happy is subjective and may actually make another human being mental. I have discovered that only I can be me and cannot expect everyone else to do everything exactly the way I would do it. I have learned to believe in myself and to shrug-off my own self-doubt and insecurities and let my energy shine through. It has been a year of tremendous personal growth – I have felt the thrills of the big wave and the calm of the perfect sea. I would not change it for one moment. It has made me who I am and propelled me forward on this fantastic journey called life.

And this I call joie de vivre. It is a step toward experiencing the under-rated art of living. To taking in every experience, learning, growing, sharing, and feeling a sense of completeness in your journey. Knowing that there is always more but choosing not to project manage and plan every step. Instead, letting life come your way, feeling grateful for the people who love you and make you better and always knowing that, around the next turn, there is something new to learn.

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