I’ve been doing a lot of synthesis lately. Creating a new business, dreaming a new dream, reflecting on what to take forward from the past will do that to you.

I realize that I’ve done enough (perhaps too much) explaining of the reasons why I had to let go. But I haven’t done enough celebrating of the fullness and richness of my life that enables me to be where I am right now. I’ve been acting like I have to apologize for five and a half years of offering everything in my being in service to something bigger than myself. I’ve been acting like I have regrets or things left undone. Where these thoughts came from is a subject for my own inquiry.

But as I reflect on the lessons I’ll take forward for the next chapter of my life, I am finding there is an abundant overflow of learning. I am literally foaming at the mouth with the lists of things I know now that I didn’t know five years ago, the things I will do differently now that I know more than I did five years ago, and the ways I will engage in life now that I did not know were possible five years ago.

And there’s a lot to celebrate in that learning!

The truth is that my life has been so full of great teachers. Everyone and every situation that has come into my life has ultimately helped to shape me. Some lessons have taken longer to really understand and integrate. Some I am still trying to understand.

For example, I was truly attached to the idea that there was one path I had to choose and stick to for the rest of my life. It may not seem that way, given all the different paths I’ve taken already. But I honestly believed that I was “supposed to” find the one mountaintop where I would just stay put and live happily ever after. I can just begin to laugh at it now, but the effect of this attachment was no laughing matter in my life. In fact, it took much of the joy out of me until I was able to detach it from my thinking, like prying a barnacle off the hull of a docked ship. Or scraping the soap scum from the rim around your bathroom sink.

I now see my life as a unique pattern woven together from the collection of circumstances, timing, people, and opportunities that have arrived in my life, and the talents, passions, curiosity, and willingness that are uniquely mine. I cherish each phase of my life as a unique time, never to be duplicated. I have no regrets, no denial of where I once was. I only hope – and begin to know each day with greater faith – that I have the wisdom to keep learning, to remain humble, and to love myself through it all.

The other commitment I’m making for my life – trying to practice it every day – is to find the humor in it! I was sitting at a table at Andiamo restaurant in Santa Fe last week, with seven “important strangers” who had become friends over the course of the week. Everyone was telling an embarrassing story about themselves, a moment when they were totally humiliated, and three of the women had story after story that brought the entire table to tears – the pee-in-your-pants, hurt-your-ribs-from-laughing-so-hard kind of tears. I sat there wracking my brain for even one story in my life that I could tell in that way. And I realized that my humiliating stories are all so sad! All I could remember were sad stories. And yet I don’t see my life story as a sad one! I realized that my brain has somehow been wired to remember the sadness and the pain. And that has to change.

So I’m going to practice finding the humor in every day…and laughing (or at least marveling) at the fullness of every single experience. Today? It was being woken up by a friend’s phone call this morning, running out of batteries almost immediately, and then watching every appointment in my previously fully scheduled day move right out of the way in order to make room for a spontaneous outdoor breakfast at Cafe Borrone with a college classmate who is moving back to the U.S. after seven years of living abroad. Perfect! My previous self might have harped on the fact that my cleaning lady forgot our scheduled time for today, or the fact that my handyman was running twenty minutes late for an appointment he scheduled himself just yesterday. But now I see them as the helpers who made room for the surprise small dose of joy that was due to arrive in their place.

And when all else fails…on those days when it’ll be particularly challenging to find the humor, to muster the smile, to feel the lightness, I’ll always have this to fall back on. Sitting on my desk, a gift from a dear friend, is this reminder of how life ALWAYS is, even when it doesn’t seem like it:

THAT was easy!