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The summer before she was thirty.

Heather Lynne, 29, needed therapy.

Or answers. Or change. Or ownership. She couldn’t decide.

At 29 years old, she realized that her 20’s had, in part, been swallowed up or stolen (in large, but definitely not in entirety) by malevolent forces. A rush to grow up. A traumatizing childbirth. A nasty divorce. A loss of self. The death of her sister.

When she looked in the mirror, she possessed, perhaps permanently, loose bags under her eyes. Blotchy, ashy skin. Hair that was falling out by the combful. From 19 to 29, her body had shrunk. Twenty pounds of muscle and presence. A full bra cup (or two). A longer face.

And yet, she was proud. The trials-by-fire, ten-years-in-the making transformation had given her more than she had ever hoped for.

A beautiful, blue-eyed boy, ever-curious and wide-eyed and open-hearted.

A partner that was not just her closest friend, but the fiercest protector of her heart.

Faith by choice.

Wisdom through experience.

A backbone comprised of individual family members and friends that never left her side. That grew by the year. That extended in all directions.

Another blue-eyed baby, with soft-soft skin, fuzzy hair, a furrowed brow, chunk-a-lunk thighs, and a raspy voice.

This was the life she’d previously hesitated to even dream of.

And it was a life, she decided, that needed to be fully enjoyed — every last drop of it, savored. Starting now. Because, she knew very well, anything can be taken from you, no matter how close you hold it. No matter how tightly. No matter how long you’ve loved it.

So in came a devotion to exercise, because she only had one body. And even in all of its shortcomings and frailties, it was hers.

In came a belief in cooking, every day. In shutting the recipe book and developing a framework of kitchen intuition. In slowly getting better.

In came listening to the news while driving.

Reading a book she wanted to read.

Taking a difficult math class to prove to herself that she could.

Adding M.Ed to her resume.

Bible study with a group of women that changed her life, one Tuesday morning at a time.

A passport with its first stamp.

Time set aside to craft, to create, with her mom, with her sister, with other neighbors who needed to breathe.

Keeping a planner, like her sister had, and scrawling events to look forward to: A getaway with her love. Camping. The beach.

Breaking plans and going running with the moment.

In embracing the power she has to be decisive. To change any path she wants (and then change it again, if she wants to).

Nothing is guaranteed. Everything can be taken from you.

Yes. But.

But because nothing has to be permanent, that is why what she chooses is so precious.

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(She is still having a hard time discussing any of this in first person. But she is choosing to work on that later.)

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