I Am In Love with My Wrinkles

I am in love with my wrinkles.

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Me at nineteen!

We all have wrinkles. We can choose to hide or get rid of them, or we can choose to embrace them.  Here is why I am in love with some of my favorite wrinkles, and why I invite you to fall in love with yours.
I got my very first wrinkle at 19.  I was an only child of doting Jewish parents, both a mama’s and daddy’s girl at the same time.   I was protected and taken care of.   Our family had attempted to leave communist Russia for 13 years (since I was 6) and the government consistently refused.  Twice a year we applied for exit visas, and twice a year we were denied.  Then, at 19, I was unexpectedly given permission to leave Russia… but on my own, without my parents.

Fast forward three months, and I find myself on a plane leaving Leningrad.  I was 19, feeling desperately alone in the world, terrified, and not knowing if I would ever, EVER see my parents again.

That is how I obtained my first wrinkle. What I got with it was the gift that, at 19, I learned how strong I really was: that I was capable beyond my own imagination, that I could do anything.  I received THAT learning and lifelong insight out of the most devastating experience of my teenage years.

I am definitely keeping that wrinkle.

More favorite wrinkles formed when my 20-year-old daughter was planning to travel to Israel right in the middle of a war.  Everyone in my family questioned me as a mother for allowing her to go, and demanded that I stop her.

I did a lot of soul searching.   How would I live with myself if I didn’t stop her from going and yet…?  I could not even let myself think beyond the yet.  Scary.   What if everyone was right, and I was wrong, and it was my job as a mother to stop her?  What if…?

Yes, of course, I wanted my daughter to be safe, and yet I also wanted her to know that she is free – given our family fought so hard for our freedom.   What lesson would my daughter be learning if someone else (even her mother) had more power over her choice than she did?  After all, I had been given the gift of a tough choice myself at about her age.  Then I made a decision: I told my daughter that I trusted her to choose for herself and that I would support her in that choice.  My daughter chose to go.

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My daughter on her trip to Israel.

This sweet basket of wrinkles revealed themselves when I took that stand for my daughter and her right and ability to make choices in her own life.

Because of those wrinkles, my daughter went to Israel and had the most profound experience of her life.  It formed within her a passion for travel that now has her just returning from her second summer-long backpacking trip to Europe, writing a travel blog, and making spectacular travel videos.

At age 20, my daughter learned that she can trust herself with life-impacting decisions… and, more importantly, that she has a voice and a choice.

That is a bunch of wrinkles I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Click here to read part two.

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Alexandra Levin
 

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