It is that time of the year again - I'm another year older!

It's funny - every year around my birthday, my mind starts taking me through my past. And I begin reflecting on where I have been, and where I am going.

It's been a busy and challenging year! Just when I thought I was done studying, I started again - and I am loving it! That was totally unexpected....and it is a blessing. I am thankful for it.

Then I think back to when I was applying to study again. The long, dreadful process of waiting to see if I was accepted or not. I thought that time would never finish. And yet, somehow, I got through it. And here I am today.

As I celebrate my birthday, I look back to the year behind me. And I realize how much I have grown and changed - in a positive way. I see how each challenge made me into the person I am today. I realize how my outlook on life has changed, too. I am now five years into recovery, and I am enjoying every second of it. Are there still challenges? Yes. But I am more prepared to deal with them. I have a toolbox of skills and strategies to continue helping me along the way. That, dear readers, is what defines maturity and development as we age - not the actual 'number' of our age.

Sometimes, life becomes overwhelming and I don't stop to enjoy the simple things in life. This is really something I want to do more of this year. I want to remind myself that regardless of how tough something may be, I can get through it. It will pass. Just like everything else. It is simply a matter of keeping things into perspective, of realizing that I can get through this - just like I did before. We have to remember that each experience we have shapes us into the people we will be tomorrow. We can learn something from every obstacle that we face, and we can use these experiences to make us wiser, happier individuals. But we also need to allow ourselves to reflect and learn from these situations. And to SLOW DOWN, to keep ourselves well, and to enjoy small things that truly make life a little more pleasurable. When was the last time you opened your eyes on a sunny morning and smiled? When did you last take a deep breath outside, and feel the air expand your lungs? When did you last take a warm bath and relax, letting your brain think of nothing? It is these simple things that truly make us realize that life is worth living - despite all the hardships that we may face.

This year, on my birthday, I am thankful for how far I have come. And I cannot wait to see where life takes me next.

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