Adapted from "Surrendering to Yourself." Used with permission.

What is the passion of your soul? Do you know? Have you lost your raw child energy? We cannot all build careers around passion, such as many artists are able to do, but we can all stay connected to that early joy. I love riding horses, and I rode often until I was in my mid-twenties. Throughout my life, I dreamed of owning a horse ranch in Tucson, Arizona, where my family vacationed throughout my childhood, and where my brother Greg now lives. Whether that ever happens-and I still hold on to the hope that it will-I can still ride horses in my home state of Maryland. I can still live part of my dream.

I recently got on a horse again after a two-decade break, at my friend Marian Shaw's 190-acre farm off the Chester River in eastern Maryland. As she was adjusting my stirrups on a mare named Iris, of all names, I put my head on the horse's red mane, stroked her sinewy neck and the smell of sweat and hay shot me back to my horse Chico from girlhood and the tobacco-chewing cowboys who led us on trails through the Arizona desert. Cowboy Frank is an indelible memory. He wore tight jeans and smoked Camel non-filters and he made the best scrambled eggs fried in bacon grease on breakfast rides-this while drinking a Coors beer from the can.

With tears streaming through the dust on my cheeks, I took off with Marian next to fields of soybeans and new emerald green wheat. Everything good and right about riding came rushing back to me: loping against the wind, my muscles molded onto the horse's muscles, moving as one, like a sexy slow dance. As we eased to a halt, I let a hot and glisteny Iris chomp on some bushes, then put my hands on the horn of the Western saddle and threw my head back. Under a blinding October sun and surging with history, my whole self opened.

How could I have left horses, the sport of my soul? I ride as often as I can these days and will never stop. That was a huge mistake.

What are you hankering to do that you stopped doing? As parents we are delegated to the sidelines, to watch as our children tackle new sports and activities. While we are proud audience members as they learn to horseback-ride, score goals in soccer, excel at ballet and get up on water skis, all this can make us want to dig in ourselves. Pushing ourselves to get off the observation deck and back into the game can make anyone feel giddy, like a grown-up who is still growing, not someone edging over the hill. Grab your old skateboard or guitar, pick up on writing the novel you started in college, go back to something you once loved but left. You too will feel as if you've unlocked a precious piece of yourself that got buried with time and responsibility.

Four Ways to Be a Grown-up
Who's Still Growing

  • Look to yourself for definition and direction, and not to the judgment of friend, lovers and peers.

  • Never be afraid to become a fully-flexed 100-percent self who operates out of raw honesty, even if it means some people think you are outrageous. That's a key principle of Surrendering to Yourself: Don't dwell on what other people think of you, focus on what you think of yourself. Trying to please everyone else just waters down your voice of truth, and that's the voice you need to be listening to.

  • Start loving who you are and how you look at this moment, imperfections and flaws.

  • Aging can mean whatever we want it to mean; it certainly should not mean aspiring to look like a midlife actress whose physical perfection and perpetual youth is from cosmetic enhancement and is simply not attainable by most women. Real beauty springs from having purpose and passion, whether you are 28 or 50 or 64. What we need to seek is not a perfect physique, but fitness of life.

  • If going to work fills you with more dread than exhilaration it's time to shake up your life.

  • Don't put off your dreams for a future To Do list that may never pan out. Right now. figure out who you want to be when you grow up, even if you're already 48. It's never too late to become who you were meant to be all along. You get only one lifetime to get it right.

  • Don't abandon the passion of your soul.

  • We should, at every age, make sure we remain connected to our childhood passions, hobbies, sports and other forms of play that make us feel charged and hopeful and alive. Don't stop shooting baskets or riding horses or training in ballet if that's what you once loved to do. When you are linked to your soul, life seems a lot more loving, and you are in a better position to love and serve others.

    Real freedom and power comes from knowing exactly who you are, and that it is only you who can make yourself whole and happy.

    Friends come and go, loved ones die, jobs shift, children leave home. The only person you can count on to go the distance is you. So, we all must develop immense soul power and self-love, so that when our worlds come unraveled, our selves will remain intact and strong. Because when all else fails, we still have ourselves, and selves that are grounded in truth and self-acceptance are spiritually indestructible.

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