Hello twenty-three.

What a year you were. While twenty-two was the Year of Change, you were the Year of Growth.

Thank you for teaching me that my gut is trustworthy. When I follow my intuition, I am following my truth. When I follow my truth, I am living wholeheartedly.

Thank you for helping me discover the holy network of souls I belong to. I am an integral part of the Universe, connected to everyone and everything. I’m part of something much larger than myself. How I treat myself ripples outward like a stone in a pond. Thank you, also, for insisting that I am kind to myself, especially at moments when it is unbelievably difficult. I have come home to the warm hearth of my own love and could bask in my sunlight forever.

Thank you for showing me that there is no shame in softness. My body is the cathedral that houses my spirit, so it must be sturdy and healthy and treated well. My body is not my essence, but rather the vessel that carries my essence from place to place so that I can experience the world and the world can experience me. Dimples and rolls have nothing to do with what I bring to the cosmic table.

Thank you for sending me trial after trial to test if I was truly ready to stop accepting less than I deserve, to value my growth and well-being over old aches of the heart, to say “no” to things that do not serve me. Thank you for showing me what exactly is in my purview and what I can relinquish control of. The boundaries between me and others became crystal clear and easy to obey. I acquiesced the guilt associated with declining to do or be things that I did not have the energy for. I decided that no one is entitled to my time except for me.

Thank you for observing me succumbing to my vices and allowing me to decide on my own to overcome them. I needed to reach rock bottom so that I could feel the euphoria of the long swim to the top, the ecstasy of coming up for air that was pure and restorative, the relief of laying on the shore and listening to the waves rather than being ruled by them. Thank you for leading me to the realization that I am capable of meeting reality on reality’s terms. I don’t need a shroud or escape to cope with the pain and uncertainty of everyday life. I know now that this is not all there is.

Thank you for reminding me that my life’s best blessing is the people who have loved me unconditionally and taught me to love unconditionally. I’ve dissolved the fear that love will disappear if I am anything less than perfect. Now I know that I am loved despite my flaws, just as I love others despite theirs. I will not be abandoned for being human. If I am, that person does not belong in my life anyway.

Thank you for ensuring that I conquered my perpetual and debilitating Impostor Syndrome. I belong here. I am worthy of invitations and commendations. I am not a phony, I am not simply lucky, I am not being deceived. I am not merely the beneficiary of convenient timing. I have earned my place and continue to earn my place everyday.

Finally, thank you for removing the chip on my shoulder and opening me up to the possibility of motherhood. I’d been back-and-forth and bitterly cynical about the potentiality, but my eyes and heart are clear now. If it is meant to be, I will lean in with open arms. I simply want the opportunity to raise someone kind. We always need more kindness in the world.

Twenty-three, you were a year for the books. I will always remember you fondly. Twenty-four, I see you and I welcome you. I predict that you will be the Year of Transcendence, but that is yet to be determined. I can already feel the glittering sensation that you are going to be a spectacle. And I am ready.

Here goes nothing, and everything.

A prayer: As the image of myself becomes sharper in my brain and more precious, I feel less afraid that someone else will erase me by denying me love.” -Jenny Slate, Little Weirds

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