It's my birthday.

This weekend I turn 44. Even my son was surprised...he thought I’ve been 41 “for a long time.” I’m sure I’ve missed some deadlines in the quest for eternal forehead still moves, I’m hardly ever vegan, and I don’t love Soul Cycle (sorry, not sorry). As I reflect on these recent years, I’m in awe not of the numbers on my birthday, but of what’s happened in this human experience. What I’ve learned. What I’ve lost. What has grown. And, what I’ve shed.

As I’ve shared with you my dearest community, my sister, Maggie, died in May. Running my business amidst this personal crisis was hard and I became overwhelmed with stress and self-doubt. I don’t think I slept for what felt like most of 2018. The flip side is that I have never felt nor imagined the depth of love as I did during the precious time I had with my sister.

Losing my sister and trying to participate in day-to-day life was a bit of a blur. I wandered. I cried. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t write. I resisted going to dance class. I was hurting and wanted to stay away from anything that brought me close to the deep places in my soul. My ability to manifest what I wanted felt broken; my magic touch no longer available to me. I became angry. I started to hate clichés and positive mantras...even the ones I had made up myself (and probably told you to do). I couldn’t be kind to myself, practice self-care, or show up fully...all of the things I prescribe to others. Darkness. 

During that time, a few leases and opportunities to open new Hivery locations fell apart. A guy in a shiny VC office mansplained that I had to open another Hivery fast in order to scale and “be relevant.” Otherwise, my work wouldn’t matter. I refrained from calling him a douche bag (victory bell!).

The days felt heavy. People that I never expected stuck to my side like glue, some showed up in a blindingly love-filled way, and conversely some wandered off (or lost my phone number). Even with a tribe, the road felt dark. People often said, “I know you have so many people around who love you...” as if to say that I’d be fine, but the loneliness was intense.

Through the cracks came faint melodies that started to sound like courage. We gathered 350 women for our Entrepreneur + Inspiration Lab event in San Francisco that finally reminded me again of my creative zone. I learned that if I don’t express myself, I die a little inside. Very good to know. Life hack...don’t forget. Another victory bell would soon be in sight when the location we’d been working on for over a year in SF finally came through.

That day at our big event, I felt the sunshine. That day I also met a world-class doctor. After meeting with her, to review my breast cancer risk (off the charts is what she called it, I believe), I decided to have a preventative double mastectomy. A couple months later, she held my hand and sang “Dear Theodosia” while I went under anesthesia. I woke up different, and in pain, but quite proud of myself for not chickening out. Glennon Doyle, you say “we can do hard things”…but geez. 

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. During these past two weeks of recovery, I’ve watched 18 movies and entire seasons of “Fixer Upper.”  I refuse to look at my iPhone screen time report as the boredom has led to an insane (and inane!) amount of scrolling. I am in beta mode right now, striving for Grace 2.0...I think I need to design a 2.0 t-shirt. I’m entirely sick of bone broth.

And the weirdest part? I’m happy. Confusingly, slowly, like moving underwater, humbly, happy. Hopeful. Willing. Ready. Alive. No longer attached to expectations, but thrilled to be here. Grateful for the love of a community I created, and just as grateful to be part of a world that I’m only a tiny molecule in.

Here I sit, surrounded by the massive love in my house and in my life. In awe. More willing than ever to walk through the door of what’s possible. Compassionate for all those whose struggles and battles are so much harder than mine. It is not a comparison of hardships, but on the global scale, I know I’ve had it easy. My hurt softens me to the hurt of others, and for that, this whole thing has been a whopper of a gift.

I see it again...the road ahead. And I’m squarely on it, facing forward. The rear view mirror is there to remind me of my fear, sadness and all that has been endured, but can be tilted away so as not to obstruct my view of the light. Licking my wounds, and putting a soft hand on yours, I have been beat up, broken-hearted, and reduced to pieces. I know you have, too. And I’m still here. With you. With so much love to give and so much more life in me. 

Screw resolutions. I’ve earned wisdom. And I intend to use it to create magnificent, bright spots on this curvy and unexpected road of life for as many humans as I can. As Pema Chodron writes, “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”… That’s the quest: to humbly accept fear, to know that we don’t know, to have courage to stand on shaky ground, and to love fully and deeply, anyway and always.

Even with the unexpected. Even in the dark. There’s light. Don’t worry. Whether near or far, we’ve got each other. With unrelenting commitment, we’ve got this.