a Quarter Century & Balding

in about just one week, i will be celebrating my 25th birthday.

an entire quarter century.

as i sit contemplating these last twenty five years, i focus on this past year the most.

 

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this has been, by far, the hardest year of my life.

aside from losing my hair, i lost my health. my hair is just a physical sign of sickness. i've been in and out of doctors' offices, getting tests, blood work, ultrasounds, you name it.

i even lost some friends due to my absence and my inability to be the high-energy, fun-loving girl i used to be. 

as i sit by myself this morning watching the seasons and colors of the world change, i think about becoming a quarter-century old. but i do not feel dread.

i feel an overwhelming thankfulness in my heart.

as my birthday draws ever closer, i feel inclined to express my thankfulness, my genuine gratitude for the past year. the hardest times often lead to the greatest moments in life.

heartbreaking seasons can certainly grow me, but were NEVER meant to define me. the voices of anxiety, depression, condemnation & rejection can come at me, but they don't have to reside in me.

this year has been a battle with loneliness & anxiety... fear of the great and terrible "WHAT IF". 

i spent many mornings curled up in corners, dreading the next chunk of hair falling out in my hands in the middle of the workday ahead... paranoia in the afternoons having to run back and forth to the bathroom (sick) at work... and nights spent angry and frustrated with my body and with my self... and the worst feeling in the world: feeling completely and utterly ALONE in this battle.

i sit here and i know the reality. i close my eyes and quietly resolve with the peaceful, quiet voice of my consciousness:

What if God's plan is to change me through this, 
before He changes my circumstances in this?

so i place my thoughts elsewhere, and live from the abundant place where i am loved:

allow me to take the rest of this space to thank you (i am using "you" as a standalone for all the incredible people who remind me every day that i am NEVER alone). the term here, "you" represents all of you incredible people, who i hope read this, and know how truly thankful i am, that your love changes my circumstances and heals my mindset every single day... 

thank YOU for holding me and my heart when the first bald patch fell out, to now. 

thank YOU for being there physically, emotionally & mentally as i received diagnosis after diagnosis.

thank YOU for sending me good-morning texts to remind me that you are thinking of me, that you believe in me, that you wish me strength for another day. thank you for responding to the many texts, the 3 AM texts, the angry and miserable texts.

thank YOU for bringing me back to the present moment. 

thank YOU for being tough on me, for pushing me to forge forward. thank you for being there for me when i needed to change, wake up, or realize. for telling me to get over it, to keep going.

thank YOU for going out of your way to make plans, over and over and over if you had to, just to see my face, give me a hug, and remind me that this is only a season- that seasons do change.

thank YOU for showing me options, for helping me embrace myself, for teaching me to look at life through a different lens...thank you for showing me that wig shopping can be like shoe shopping!

thank YOU for listening to me, even if  you don't always want to, when it seems like it's problem after problem...thank you for not letting me use my problems as an EXCUSE. thank you for mentoring me and motivating me to be the best professional version of myself despite any obstacle in my path. thank you for not allowing self-pity, but thank you... thank you for listening.

thank YOU for the adventures, the memories & new experiences.

thank YOU for your time. because time is so precious and is never guaranteed. 

thank YOU for the support and for the acts of kindness and the words of love that i have plastered to my fridge door:

"keep being you"
 

"rock on you rock star! love how positive you are, stay that way & know we are all here for ya, darling!"
 

"to the girl who brightens everyones day, here is a little something to brighten up yours and to remind you that you have an awesome support system here, xoxo keep on smilin'"


thank YOU for sharing my story, for helping me make a difference, for opening doors for me to meet people who have much bigger battles than i do, for showing me that EVERYONE i encounter has a battle, a STORY, an incredible JOURNEY.

thank YOU for giving me the greatest gift: HOPE.

thank YOU for helping me be COURAGEOUS.
 

THANK YOU for what i know will be the best birthday yet.

xo,

Clarisse