DEAR FUTURE ME {27th BIRTHDAY MUSINGS}

Dear Future Me,

I’m not sure when I’ve ever felt so much like an adult and a ten-year-old at the same time. Throw in some eighty-year-old vibes for good measure, and you’ve got a little glimpse into what my life is currently composed of. But, before I get into that, let me give you a little snapshot of where I am so you can look back and feel all the nostalgia.

It’s 9:29 Monday morning, the weather is incredibly hot so my AC is nosily chugging away, trying to combat the heat. I’m sitting long-ways on the couch, with my Spotify liked playlist (with 1,985 songs) serenading me – specifically with the song Love Story by Taylor Swift, the only Taylor Swift song I ever listen to. I just finished my coffee (which I ran over to my adopted parent’s camper to make because I still haven’t perfected the measurements in my own coffee maker and I wanted to make sure the coffee was good this morning), and I’m chugging away at water from my clear bottle with a deep purple lid because the sun pouring through the window onto my back is making me thirsty.

On my table, I have three plates of freshly baked white chocolate craisin cookies, and I deposited a bag of caramel popcorn on the bench seat when I came in from saying hey to my adopted parents when the arrived here a few minutes ago. Other than that my darling camper is clean with everything in order. The pantry is over-stocked, water jugs all full, cupboards organized, and the diffuser is puffing out the scent of lemongrass.

This year my life took a turn that I dreamed and prayed about for years, but was never really sure if it would work out. At the end of May, I moved to Kentucky to work at the Creation Museum for the summer. A summer that was delightfully full, scary, rewarding, exciting, and stuffed with one of the biggest learning curves I’ve ever experienced.

And, now here’s the crazy part. The summer’s over, and I’m still here.

See, Future Me, after I got settled in here, I realized it was exactly where I was supposed to be. From the four plants next to my sink to the routine of hauling in my drinking water to carrying around a stuffed animal at work to making friends with my co-workers… Well, everything felt right. Like smiling at guests at the Museum and cooking meals for my friends and dancing through the gardens was exactly what this season of my life was meant for.

And, although I haven’t told anyone online, and I haven’t even gotten around to telling everyone back in Ohio, this is now my life. Today is the transition – today I’m going from being a Seasonal Generalist to a Full-time SET Member. I’m going from being a blue shirt to a Red Shirt. It’s exciting and terrifying and thrilling all at once. It’s the answer to many prayers, countless conversations, dozens of my coworkers helping me and giving me advice, and me flinging myself so far outside my comfort zone that I spent weeks of restless nights.

It also means I’m committed to staying here.

Future Me, who knows where you are now, and what kind of commitments you’ve made. But Current Me? Well, this commitment to the Creation Museum is the first time I’ve ever agreed to anything that lasts more than a couple of months, and it’s crazy. I just spent a couple of weeks with my family and whenever I had a chance I went through my belongings at home, deciding what I did and didn’t need. See, since the plan is for me to live in a camper long-term, that means I can start downsizing my stuff. Because stuff is far less important to me now than it used to be. I’ve learned a lot this year, and knowing what is and isn’t helpful in my life is one of the key lessons I’ll carry into the new year with me.

Like unnecessary words bog down a story, unnecessary items and choices do the same to my life. Wearing a uniform each day has helped me see the blessing that a lack of choices can be, and so I’ve begun streamlining the rest of my life so less of my time is spent on making choices, and more time is spent doing, being, and enjoying.

I keep watching the clock as I clack away on the keyboard – it’s now 10:14 and I’m about to pack my lunch, gather up my cookies, and slip Homer on. See, Future Me, this is where the ten-year-old side of me pops up. I literally wear a stuffed animal to work. They’re called Huggers and they are cute little animals with arms like slap bracelets. They hug onto my wrist and fill me with happiness. And, since we sell them at the bookstore, I’m allowed to wear them as I go about my tasks. For my birthday Sarah made Homer a red shirt to match my new uniform, and I can’t even tell you the amount of joy I felt when I opened the shirt.

And I guess that’s how I’ll close this letter to you. With the story of Homer. Because you see, joy is really important to me. I feel an immense amount of it bubble over on a daily basis. It’s a childlike wonder that takes over and makes me want to hug the world. It’s a delight that makes me smile and stay at work late so I can organize the stuffed animals. It’s a deeply entrenched part of who I am.

Please, please don’t lose that. I understand that you’re growing up. That budgets, interviews, and scary situations are pushing and pulling at you. One day you’ll probably be too proper to dance through life barefoot with a stuffed animal on your arm. And that’s okay – I don’t expect you to always be so random and crazy. But please, please don’t lose your delight and wonder and joy. Find ways to keep those alive in your life.

Dear Future Me, God created you this way for a reason. Your parents named you Lydia Joy for a reason. You’ve been blessed. Share that blessing, carry that blessing with you, and remember that joy doesn’t depend on what’s going on around you, but rather what’s going on inside you.

Now… Well, it’s time to head into work and hope that the cookies make up for the huge amount of ignorance you feel as you begin a new year and a new position.

Blessings!

Lydia