If I were given 25 wishes on my 25th birthday, what would they be? Would it make a difference if I knew they would come true, maybe, maybe not. But here are my wishes this year:
My first wish is for my family. From my crazy mom and mostly-mild-mannered dad, to my little brother. From my cousins near and far in both age and distance to my aunts and uncles. From my first cousins, to my third cousins once removed. May you have a year full of abundance. An abundance of happy memories. And abundance of support during the not so great times. May you have a year that is full, not empty. And mostly, may you have an abundance of love.
My second wish is for my friends. First, for the Musketeers: may each of the three of you know how lucky this D'Artagnan is to have found an Athos, Porthos and Aramis willing to take her on. May they know how much they are teaching me about how to be a friend and about how to be myself. May Athos have an amazing first year of motherhood. May she know that all of the Musketeers are there to support her in any way we can (we're excited to be Aunts!). May Aramis know a year of health, of comfort and of support. May she know how great she is at listening to all and helping people see the other side. May Porthos never lose her sense of humor, her ability to listen and to be present when her friends need her. Second, for Ms. CK, I am so blessed to have known you for the past 5 years (has it really been that long!?). We met in college, and lasted past the late nights, pizza runs, and study sessions. I'm am so grateful to have a friend like you! For all of my friends, may you know how much I love and appreciate you all. Whether we've known each other for a few months or a few years. May you experience a year full of happiness, peace, joy and love. And in the moments of sadness, grief or loneliness may you remember that I'm always here!
My third wish is for my students. You have so much ahead of you in life. My wish is that you learn to love learning. That you value your education, respect yourself and protect your reputation. Ask questions. Seek answers.
My fourth wish is for my fellow teachers. May you always remember why you went into this profession. While giving everything you have every day in the classroom, may you take time for yourself. When you have a rough day (which we all have) may there be one shining moment to make it a little better. May the bureaucracy and politics involved in teaching never weigh you down.
My fifth wish is for all the girls around the world. You are beautiful just the way you are, remember that. My wish for you is that the images and expectations placed on you by society (and especially media) never make you feel less than. May you always remember that you are valued and loved. You don't have to look like what the magazines say you should, you have to look like you!
My sixth wish is for all those who have been touched by suicide. Though there will never be answers to all your questions, and you may never understand the reasons why... may you find peace in your loss. May you become an advocate for those who can no longer speak. My wish is that you remember it's not your fault.
My seventh wish is for all those who feel enveloped by darkness. When you are in a place so dark that you can't see the end of the tunnel, may you have someone in your life who walks up behind you and hands you a flashlight. May you use that flashlight to find your way, little by little. May you not lose hope that the darkness will leave you, and faith that it WILL get better.
My eighth wish is for those who are trying to find themselves. There is no map that takes you there. You can't plug in "me" on a GPS and hope that with the correct amount of left and right turns you'll find yourself. May you know that it's a process. I think probably it's a lifelong process. We are always changing, always growing. If you are trying to find yourself my wish is that you don't give up. That you take the time to listen to your gut, to your heart. You may not always hear it loud and clear... but it's there.
My ninth wish is for the dreamers. What would be we do without you? My wish is that you keep dreaming. And when something blocks your way, or you choose another path, never regret your dreams, achieved or not. Dreams are often what have kept me motivated, kept me moving, and when you lose sight of those dreams, when they are no longer an option, it breaks a little piece of my heart. May you continue dreaming through the heartbreak. Because someday your dreams will come true!
My tenth wish is for those who seek perfection. There is no such thing as perfect. I've never seen it, even though I strive for it. May we remember that to get from point A to point B we don't have to travel a straight line. That saying what we think others want to hear isn't always the best thing. May you come to understand that sometimes the greatest lessons are learned and experienced on the squiggles and zig-zags of life.
My eleventh wish is for those who bully and are bullied. For the bullied, may you never take the mean-spirited comments at face value. There is something behind them that probably has nothing to do with you. May you find someone you can talk to so you don't have to be alone. For those who bully, may you find what it is that makes you feel like you have to be mean to others to make you cooler, or smarter, or somehow better. When you find it, my wish and hope is that you change it.
My twelfth wish is for the graduates of 2012, both high school and college. There is so much ahead of you. The road is long, sometimes twisted, sometimes dark, and you may lose your way. But there are beautiful views, rolling hills, and sunshine too. Dream big, make plans, but be willing to let them change. Evolve. May the 2012 graduates have a wonderful time as they begin their journey.
My thirteenth wish is for anyone who wears a mask. My wish is that you find someone, anyone, that you can take off that mask around. Start small. Trust just a little. It's worth it. May you become comfortable without your mask. May we learn that the mask, while it feels safe, doesn't let people meet the real you.
My fourteenth wish is for all those who feel alone. May you realize that you are not, in fact, alone. My wish for you is that you find connection in every day. Find something that makes you feel connected.
My fifteenth wish is for all the writers. Bless you! Whether you write novels, biographies or blogs may you not lose inspiration. May the words find their way to you and in turn to your readers.
My sixteenth wish is for those who have felt the sting of rejection, the disappointment of a wish not fulfilled, and the grief of a dream not realized. May you have HOPE. May you have FAITH. Hope and faith that a new dream will come. May you have knowledge and a realization that the disappointment is just a bump in the road. A blip on the radar.
My seventeenth wish is for the children. May you never lose your innocence. May you be allowed to be a child and have a childhood. May your days be full of laughter and love. Everyone has to grow up, but it's not your time.
My eighteenth wish is that we all, every single one of us, experience failure at some point in our lives. Failure challenges us. Pushes us. Helps us grow. It is in failure that we realize how strong we are. It is in failure that we find a way to succeed. It is in failure that we learn more about ourselves.
My nineteenth wish is for all those who have helped me become the person I am today, whether they or I, realize it. I've heard people say that it takes a village to raise a child. Oh how true. There are countless people in my life who have impacted me: teachers, pastors, members of my church, friends of the family, aunts and uncles, parents, and complete strangers. I know that I would be a different person if not for the people I have interacted with throughout my life. So thank you.
My twentieth wish is for those who fear. Let fear challenge you.
My twenty-first wish is for understanding on a global scale. World peace is a wish I've heard people share, but I think that's a tall order. So before there is peace, may we learn to understand one another. Understand each others faith/religions, lifestyles, ethnicities, eccentricities. May the people of the world realize that we are far more common than we realize. May we allow those commonalities to bring us together rather than allow our differences to tear us apart.
My twenty-second wish is that we all remember the sunset. There are little things that take over our life. Emails, phone calls, to-do lists, errands to run, meetings to attend. But the world keeps turning. The sun sets whether you are ready or not. So live each day to the fullest. And take a minute to soak in the beautiful things in life. Watch the sunset or sunrise, stop and admire the flowers, listen to your children laugh, listen to the birds sing. Take time to take in life. Don't just go through life... live it. Enjoy it. Many things in life can wait, but the sunset won't.
My twenty-third wish is for him. We may have already met, or we may not meet for awhile. Whoever you are, I know that you are the one God made for me. May I have patience as I wait for you, and may you have patience as you wait for me. My wish is that you know that I am excited to spend the rest of my life with someone who will be my best friend, my rock in the storm, my forever.
My twenty-fourth wish is a special one that I've wished before. My wish is that when I begin to forget that God is always with me, may He give me that gentle nudge, that whisper in my ear, that hand on my should that says, "I am here. I've vote you. I am not going anywhere." When I feel impatient, or worried, or feel like I need to fix something, may I be reminded that the holy spirit doesn't need my help. And on those days that I'm on top of the world, may I remember that it is You who led me there.
My twenty-fifth wish is for me. Just for me. It is the exact wish I've had for the last two years. May I be inspired daily by the things around me. May I learn to be comfortable with who I am and to love it. May I learn to open up, trust more, love deeper and take chances. I wish for a year full of love, discovery, acceptance, faith, hope, growing faith and big dreams. May I experience my life to the fullest. May I never fear what is just over the horizon. May I not stress about the little things. May the concern about money, jobs, cars and the like not rule my life. Above all, may I never forget those things that matter most.
If you were given a birthday wish, what would you wish for?
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