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If I could live in the fictional world created by any author, it would be that of JK Rowling. Like millions of fans across the globe, I am inspired by her creative storytelling and vivid imagination that transforms ordinary objects into metaphors for what muggles and wizards alike most seek. The Cloak of Invisibility protects our identity and provides courage to step beyond our comfort zone. The Mirror of Erised shows us the “deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.” The Deluminator collects light which can later be used in moments of darkness. But it’s Professor Dumbledore’s Pensieve – a shallow silver basin designed to hold memories – that I could most use today.

“One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure.”~ Albus Dumbledore

Oh JK, how clever you are! Over the last few weeks, I’ve struggled to write a flashback chapter for my memoir, Goodness Knows – The Way Home. If only I could simply dip into an enchanted pool of silver-threaded memories and step back inside my 9th-grade body. If only I had taken more photos and written more journal entries.

If only I had left more clues.

But rather than unsuccessfully piecing together the fragmented feelings of this little drummer girl (cause ya know, that was a few decades ago, and I don’t “keep time” as well today), instead, I asked my daughter what 14 feels like. The answer my dearest confidant, my accountability partner, and my patience-tester gave me sent truth bumps rippling across my shoulder.

“I’m afraid of not being a kid anymore – of being alone.” She confessed.

I felt my heart rise straight up to my throat. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Growing up, moving past, letting go, and, if we’re lucky, growing old. Whether it’s a graduation day, the birth of a child, or a career change, we have to move through each rite of passage, and at times we do it alone. So we must learn to stand within our strength. We must push against our fears. We must persevere through our darkest storms. We must become our own hero.

So, to my dearest Sweetpea, and to every daughter who comes along, behind and beside her, allow me to dip into the shimmering waters and show you what it feels like to be here, in your 50s, and to know of the hero you are becoming.

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You were born with a cape.

Like Harry’s cloak, your cape is also invisible, but it’s not designed for sneaking around castles undetected. Throughout your life you will meet many inspiring, compassionate and generous people – some people call men and women at this level “Superfriends” – and like all superheroes, they will come with a unique Superpower. Some will have a laser-eye focus and a seemingly indestructible willpower. Others will have an ability to bend around obstacles, or even soar above and beyond life’s most rugged challenges. How do they achieve these superhuman feats? Well, they learn to put on their cape, or proverbial oxygen mask, first.

You will nurture these super-powered friendships; some will be labeled as such, others will be disguised. But no Superfriend will be more courageous than the one who lives inside you. She will be your loyal partner through every joy and sorrow, every giggle and gag, every victory and fall. She will grieve with you through your pain then cradle you in your darkest hour. She will never abandon you. She will never ask you to relinquish your super strength for another’s. She will always have your back, and she will never draw blood. The only thing she asks of you is to make time to meet her each day. Meditate. Journal. Sing. Dance. No matter what form it takes, honor the hero inside then fasten your cape because your superpower is love. And love is never alone.

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You are the light.

As you grow and your goals change, mentors and coaches will come along to help uncover your blind spots and show signs of what’s ahead. But do not mistake these teachers as prophets or magicians. No coach can deliver the secret to a successful business in an hour. No psychiatrist can create a magic potion to alleviate pain. Muses do not exist to inspire, and Master Yoda will not bestow you with powers of The Force.

You will learn to light your own path. It will be difficult, exhaustive grey-hair-inducing work, but by blazing your own trail and lighting it along the way, you will say “I’m enough. I need, no more. I know what to do next.” And on days when you find yourself feeling lost or sad, remember the words of Professor Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” When you realize that you are that light, you are never alone.

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You are what you seek.

You want an epic romance, and you deserve many. So here are a few clues of what to look for, and a couple of obstacles that may get in the way. First, you won’t need to work as hard as you think but be prepared for the unexpected. Pack a few bandaids to cover the blisters on your feet when you go chasing off in the wrong direction. Carry a can of pest repellant to ward off anyone who hovers around too long. And beware; when romance shows up wrapped in pixie dust and butterflies, it’s gonna be flighty. Don’t expect it to stick around for long. It’s not in its nature. Look for those who show passion and commitment to their art, their career, and their family. You will be wined and dined, hold the hands and often the secrets of your loved one, and just when you think “he may be the one” he’ll ask to see your boobs. It’s okay, but only you get to decide if that’s appropriate. And if not, sayonara buddy.

Take every chance, listen to every call. You will find romantic love, and it will be one of the most treasured experiences of life. But never change who YOU are to match the needs of another. And above all, never expect others to change for YOU. Remember what Professor Dumbledore says of the Mirror of Erised “The happiest man on Earth would look into the mirror and see only himself, exactly as he is.” In the words of Rumi, when “what you seek is seeking you,” you will discover you are never alone.

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You will give more than you receive.

There comes the point when every daughter becomes momma hen. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will birth a child or raise a family. It means you will teach others to fly, lead them towards their dreams and become a caretaker to those most in need. You will give away your possessions in favor of freedom and let go of resentment to create space for forgiveness. Letting go of your expectations and giving up control will be your most painful lesson, but you’ll survive. You’ll never go hungry. You’ll never be without a roof over your head.

When your mother ages, you will drive her to doctor’s appointments and grocery stores. You will sort her medications and manage her bank account. You will hold her hand as she gingerly walks up the stairs. You will give all the time you can knowing that she has less and less to give in return. Then, as you watch her mind fade, you will prepare for the inevitable day when the memory of her is all that’s left. And because you have loved, you will never be alone.

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I am often accused of being complicated, too deep, too emotional – overwhelming to say the least. I can’t even imagine the alternative – shallow, lacking empathy, underwhelming. It’s taken me decades to “grow up” and accept my overwhelmingness. I learned to see my faults as my teachers, be a good student and become my own companion when trusted friends and family were not around. Most of all, I learned how to launch my own rescue mission when events around me fail. Goodness Knows if I can help my little mini-me, and other daughters like her to discover their inner hero too, I will have done my best work. I will have left behind a bit of enchantment.

Expecto Patronum!