I woke up this morning and I could see.
I mean I could see everything. The sun was rising, and I could see patterned shadows on the ceiling. I could see the La Costa valley taking shape outside my bedroom windows, and the traffic light across the valley turning from red to green. I could see the tops of the palm trees painted in morning glow, and the kind eyes of our Golden Retriever staring back at me from beside my bed.
It’s the first morning that I remember, in my entire life, that I could see.
I got my first pair of glasses when I was seven. They were big, plastic, and oddly shaped, and they did very little for the grace and power of my gymnastics routine (which I now suspect was neither graceful nor powerful).
My mom always supported my personal endeavors, and by ten she bought me my first pair of contacts. The hard kind. The kind that pop out when you blink. I can’t tell you how many mornings I spent with my older brothers, crammed in the bathroom, crawling around looking for a contact.
My vision became progressively worse, and by my 45th birthday, I was wearing trifocals. Thick, heavy, yucky, chemistry club trifocals. (I mean no disrespect to the chemists in the crowd. Some of my best friends are chemists.) I wore contacts by day, with reading glasses over them, and then switched to the five-pound plastic numbers at home, at night, when no one was around.
As my vision impairment progressed, so too did the impairment in my attitude. I accepted that things were getting worse. I accepted that I was getting weaker as I grew older. I said out loud, more than once, “We’re not getting any younger. This is how it’s going to be now.”
Who says that kinda crap?
But something happened to me about a year ago. Maybe it was 48, screaming at me to wake up and clean the house because 50 was on the way and party residue was lying around everywhere.
Maybe it was the thoughts that played like a looped recording, over and over in my head: You should do that. You could do that. If that girl can do that, you can do that. Why don’t you do that?
Maybe it was watching my teenage son – who’s so full of power and potential and innocence and wonder – and wanting to show him that he can do anything. Forever. If only he wants it badly enough.
Maybe it was the gratitude I’ve cultivated, patiently and with daily practice.
Maybe it was awe for my husband, who wakes every day to take on the world as an entrepreneur and an Ironman, and seems to be aging backwards.
Maybe it was grace… or divine intervention.
But I just knew that it was time to give myself a chance. That I never really had.
I had been successful. I had achieved. But I’d never done what I COULD have done. Because I’d never actually tried the hard things. I’d tried at the things with the best odds for my success.
In comparison to what I could have brought the world, I’d played small every single day of my life.
I was carrying around a sack of crap that just didn’t serve me. I suppose it had at one time (my memory is another thing that’s not what it used to be) but I’ll be damned if I can remember why I started thinking some of the nasty things I did.
And I just knew, for the first time, that there was nothing wrong with me.
And little by little, I started taking it to the next level.
I found a way to wind down my consulting business and wind up a new online business that challenged and inspired me.
I started a blog, and stuck with it, even though it felt like shouting into a deep, dark hole.
I started to study, listen, and learn anew.
I began to visualize exactly what my future could look like.
I mapped out a plan for how I could serve. I created my first online course. I wrote my first eBook. I made videos. I “Facebook Lived” and did webinars. I jumped into conversations. And I started to influence small businesses.
I even joined the frickin’ PTA.
At 49 years old, I put my head under the water in the ocean, for the first time in my life.
I threw away my Camel Menthols.
And last week, I had eye surgery. I had a tiny lens inserted under my cornea in each eye. And today when I woke up — for the first time since I can remember – I could SEE.
And I saw, with the absolute certainty that only 20/20 vision can provide, that I will be better at 50 than I was at 40. And better again at 60.
It’s not over. It’s only just beginning.
I will undoubtedly trip and fall. But I’ll just pick myself up, take a quick look around to see who’s watching (I’m not far enough along in my personal growth to be past that bullsh&*), dust myself off, and start again.
I recently saw Kyle Cease speak at Click Funnels Funnel Hacking Live event. He introduced me to a truth about myself: that every time I break through an old limit, an old part of me dies. And it’s that part of me that cries out for me to play small. It speaks up to save itself.
“Wouldn’t it be great, if instead of giving in to the voice, or trying to silence the voice, you could just hear it and say, ‘Awesome’?”
And I’m saying, “Awesome” all day now.
Awesome. To the one carrying the backpack of crap I no longer use.
Awesome. To the one who used to protect me, but I no longer need.
Awesome. To the one who was always afraid because she couldn’t see.
Because I can see now. I can see 50. I can see 60. I can see 70. And they look pretty damned good to me.
Julia “Juju” Hook has been a brand strategist for more than 25 years. Her online program, Unforgettable U, provides entrepreneurs and small business owners an affordable option for developing killer brand strategies. Click here for a free download of her proprietary system for building an authentic brand that connects, converts, and changes the world: The Anatomy of a Brand, and to access her blog which provides Strategic Juju to entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business owners each week. Juju shares insights about how we brand our businesses to connect with our ideal clients, and about how we brand ourselves to connect with our full potential.