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There is a photo of me that was taken on Christmas Day when I was three. Having taken off my Christmas dress, with all its itchy crinoline and petticoats, I stand in my white cotton underwear and undershirt, my bare feet in my brand new cowgirl boots, my toy six gun strapped to my waist, and my Annie Oakley hat placed firmly upon my head. I am talking on the play telephone, I think that there was a recorded voice of Mickey Mouse, but I am not sure. This is my favorite photo from my childhood.

As I look at it now, I see a young child who has unwittingly prepared herself for her life: standing in innocence and joy, without the trappings of society, firmly grounded in boots meant to go the long haul, protection at her side, and having a conversation with unseen forces that will guide her. From way out here in that child’s future, just over sixty years later, I look back and see the innate strength and perseverance that was hers to rely upon, and I am thankful to the Universe that it was given.

As I approach my sixty-fourth birthday, I find myself considering the times through which I have walked. I awakened this morning with these thoughts:

Like archaeologists, we slowly and carefully brush away what covers our true nature, sifting through the sands of that which blows over us from other places and people who would rather see us covered in their needs. It is the progress of our lives that allows us to clear away the debris and seek out the treasure of ourselves.

Just as the constant churning of the surf wears away the sands to reveal the great rocks hidden at the shoreline, the ebb and flow of our lives helps us to move away that which we mistakenly thought was firm and supportive, and leave only the truly solid parts of our being.

That’s all it is. Nothing else matters.