July is over and I am in review.

This past month has brought the celebration of my 37th birthday, and the highly anticipated (but over-rated) one year anniversary of my vsg surgery. Many family birthdays, gatherings, and what seems like the literal transformation of my children morphing into REAL teenagers right before my eyes. And of course, one of my favorite holidays, the Fourth of July. (And more importantly, the release of Stranger Things, Season 3…amiright?)

I have always shared my birthday with my Dad. My crabby cancer twin. I was born July 6th, the day after his birthday of July 5th, and for YEARS, I truly believed the entire display of fireworks on July 4th of each year were in direct observation of our personal birthday’s.

I thought it was SO COOL that my Dad and I were special enough to get fireworks for our birthdays. Of course, as I got older I learned it wasn’t about all me…and it seems I’m still learning that lesson everyday since.

This path of “spiritual growth” and “maturity” is really just the daily death of ego/self, and the constant surrender of what I cannot control.

RIP to the Mandi that existed yesterday…and all the days before.

I am learning that the “art of allowing” means that RIGHT NOW is all that we really have…and I must move forward, always adjusting my grip on the faith that what is truly meant for me, will be.

Turning over onto my back and floating along with with the current, instead of struggling against it.

Just floating along.

Because, like John Mayer sings ,”a little bit of summer is what the whole year’s all about.” And I have been DETERMINED to stay present in each moment of it…and find joy, as I continue to shed my old skin.

And so, this year my birthday month was a blur of plans, projects, work, laughter, tears, food, workouts, board games, pulling weeds with rage, fireworks, shrimp, salty yoga sweat in my eyes, thick bbq smoke in my eyes, chlorine water in my eyes, cards against humanity, red wine, dog walks, sunburns, nectarines, iced coffee, vodka/cranberry’s, regret, good news, bad news, hard news, gratitude, pain, loss, disappointment, journaling, missing loved ones, hard conversations, resistance, meditation, laying on grass, making memories, making progress, making mistakes, claiming breakthroughs, receiving revelations, forgiveness, lessons, long baths, evaluation, acceptance and growth.

2019 is still out here, kicking ass and taking names.

But I am here for it.

Embracing change and practicing SURRENDER…because (it has become clear) THAT is, in fact, my grand assignment right now.

If the definition of independence is “the freedom from the control or influence of others” then…I do declare…I am fighting for it!!!

Like a true patriot.

Unhooking myself from what no longer serves me, and wandering through the unknown.

Searching for that place that is really, and truly…ME.

The place where no one else’s opinions or expectations govern my life or identity. The place where I can stop and feel my heart shift from grief and fear, to finally moving into a feeling of hope and possibility.

A place to rest, and drive my own authentic flag of freedom deep, deep down.

Anchored into the earth, like the oldest and strongest tree roots, sinking down for miles.

Holding firm and providing strength to stand tall in the midst of the storms of my past…and the storms that are still to come.

Yes. I have learned that the fight for personal independence and freedom is only truly won…when we surrender.

The real POWER comes in vulnerability, and coming out of hiding to fight.

Freedom isn’t free, right?

We celebrate with fireworks each year to honor our first Independence Day, when our country was still in the midst of the Revolutionary War. People came together to watch the first display of fireworks that were meant to draw a new nation together, and raise the spirits of all those who were RALLYING, but likely tired, fearful, and growing weary of the battle.

That resonated on a deeper level with me this year. I get to enjoy the liberties I have today, because of those who DARED to be true to themselves, and NOT stay and HIDE in the dark.

So, maybe this year I WILL just go ahead and believe those fireworks WERE meant just for ME, and my tiny revolution. And, just learn to say “thank you” for all the lessons that came along with it…while pressing onward.