|"Pay attention. Be astonished. And tell about it. We're soaked in distractions. The world didn't have to be beautiful. We can and should think about that beauty and be grateful." Mary Oliver|
Last Saturday, my mother and sister took me out for an early birthday dinner. Driving into Boston in the late afternoon, stuck in traffic, we chatted with ease, jumping around to different topics without worrying about making sense of any of it. I was happy to be together with my family, and they made me feel special by carving out time to remember my birthday. After discussing why we always forget to get in the HOV lane, I asked "Where we were going?" My sister laughed and said, "It's a surprise!"
Moving at a snail's pace, I gazed out the car window and saw myself staring back at me. I haven't been looking forward to turning 40. I'm not in any mood to be contemplative, no mood to think, no mood to feel, needless to say, this blog post has been a challenge. These days I am moving from task to task. I've been playing out the repetitive motions of daily life, filling it up with the details of getting things done. Crossing off lists, and quickly making new ones, which doesn't leave much time for having fun or making social plans. Most days I feel like I'm treading hard to keep my head above water, and other days I feel like I've been hit by a tidal wave. I'm pretty good at hiding my emotions, but not to my immediate family. My mother insists I am doing too much, and I know she is right. As I'm writing this now, I realize that I have been staying busy on purpose. I want the distraction, to tire my mind and my body out so sleep will come. For the last part of this year, change has been so harsh, so finite, and so shocking. My Dad's fast illness, and passing left us all in a state of distress. If I call my sister, she answers by asking, "Is everything okay?" immediately jumping to worst case scenario conclusions. We are both living out of fear. Fear, a word that has different meanings for everyone. Fear of loss, fear of change, fear of exile. Fear takes on so many forms, and sneaks into your life and sleep. The news is a constant living nightmare, the world at unrest, injustice, endless and senseless violence is overwhelming. I know I am not alone, darkness is balanced by the light. Mostly, I've been taking care of my health and my body, but my mind is anxious. Any actions that cease my worried mind are welcome, and I do seek them out. Being with my boys is the best, they are filled with so much positive, present, palpable energy I can't help but keep my full attention on them. Exercise and yoga helps, but my husband's calm, confident strength carries me. He helps me to see how the burdens of everyday life can turn into blessings. Recently, my clothes dryer broke, and I've been driving to my Mom's house every couple days to do loads of laundry. At the kitchen table of my childhood, I sit across from my mother. She listens, I listen. She justifies my worries, validates my concerns, renews me with her experiences, and I begin to understand how reaching out to others softens sadness and suffering. Life is precious, fragile, and grief is stifling, confining and energy depleting. It's these small moments of time and togetherness with my family, that offer the most healing.
Our car turned into the archway of the Boston Harbor Hotel. The warm orange glow of the low setting sun erased from our view. We parked easily, and walked along the wharf. My Mom and sister moved quickly through the cold winds that blew over the water. I lingered to look at the bright moon that was rising fast. This year my birthday falls on the full moon, and I am trying to maintain my faith in humanity in a world full of uncertainty. Even in my daily life, I seek out the moon as it changes, and observe its phases in a state of wonder. It's a constant I find comfort in, so I made an early birthday wish on the gorgeous supermoon. A wish for peace, love, happiness and hope.
We found the only open door into the hotel, and peered around at the lavish details of dignified nautical interiors, and warmed our hands before checking our coats. Fresh greenery, red poinsettias, and festive ornaments decorated a large Christmas tree in the center of the lobby. People were talking closely in cozy sitting areas as we walked towards the restaurant. As my family confirmed our reservation, I locked eyes with my sister, all at once I knew she had done something. I can get caught up in the details of my life, this dinner with my family was on my calendar. I wasn't prepared for a big social event, and I was pretty sure they knew I didn't like surprises.
The next couple moments played out like a slow motion movie scene. I was truly surprised by old friends and new friends who had taken time out of their busy before Christmas weekend to celebrate me. Tears and pink champagne flowed, personalized pots of tea were steeping, cakes and sandwiches were served, and rose petals decorated the table. My friends and family surrounded me like shining jewels of a treasure I spent my whole life mining for. The friends you choose, and the friends that stay with you, are a reflection of your true self. These women are genuine, caring, salt of the earth angels. Friends that you can visit after a long time has passed and the conversation picks up easily right where it left off. Friends you can call day or night when you need help during tough times, or just to hear a reassuring voice. Friends that save music, books, magazines, and clothes for you because they know what you like to hear, to read, and what your style is. Friends that pop over just to give you a hug because they were in the area. Friends that buy tickets to a concert knowing you would change whatever plans you may have to go. Friends that send two pieces of a chocolate hazelnut torte home with your husband clearly stating they are for you, and you only. These are my people, my tribe, my community of love and support. I am the lucky one. We all enjoyed a late afternoon tea, and I couldn't stop smiling. I knew I would see everyone soon so there were no long goodbyes, but on the way out my sister whispered to me, "You know Dad would be really proud of you and all that you do."
|"Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious."|
Today is my 40th birthday. I feel good, comfortable in my skin. I know who I am, what I want, what I need, and have the courage to pursue my dreams. To not celebrate gratitude, kindness and generosity is a sin. So, I am rejoicing my life, my health, my family, my friends, my work, my passions.
Every day is a gift, and I welcome a future unknown.