You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view; and you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought to being with; and in the process, you learn to go with your instincts. You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing; and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility, and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry, and that martyrs get burned at the stake. Then you learn about love; romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving, and when to walk away. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations, and outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love and you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your terms just to make you happy. And you learn that alone does not mean lonely. And you look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10, and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you "stack up." You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over, and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly okay; and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things that you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands. You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity, and respect; and you won't settle for less. And you allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with his/her touch, and in the process, you internalize the meaning of self-respect. And you learn that your body really is your temple, and you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water, and taking more time to exercise. You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear; so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter and doing something for another person fuels the soul. So you take more time to laugh, to play, and to contribute to those around us. You learn that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you deserve and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for, and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline, and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it alone and that it's okay to risk asking for help. You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time - FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it, and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms. And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve, and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions, you learn not to take it personally. You learn that Goddess/Gods isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It's just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in its most primate state - the ego. You learn negative feelings such as anger, envy, and resentment must be understood and redirected, or they will suffocate the life out of you, and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls. You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted; things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator; clean, running water; a soft, warm bed; a long, hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by your SELF; and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never settle for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility. Finally, with courage in your heart and with Spirit by your side, you take a stand; you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life that you want to live as best as you can.