Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Birthday Reflection

One thing I have learned is that I can trust myself. Always. My intuition, no matter how quiet a whisper, tells me what I need to know. Even if I shout over it.

Another is that feelings are not facts. When I am sad or angry- I don't need to take my feelings out on other people or blame them for what I'm feeling. Most people don't like to feel their feelings either. So we use people to silence the noise inside. We all get caught up in it.

Lastly- this birthday was a doozy for me. It just was. Many people said to me - it's just a number. Or, you don't look forty. And I didn't know how to respond graciously. Some tried to talk me out of my feeling of antsiness - to tell me I was being silly. But some told me that forty for them gave them wisdom and greater access to love and inner peace. Those stories made me feel better. But they didn't stop me from feeling a sense of loss.

Rather than gaining something, I truly felt a loss.

Then I realized - I haven't been sitting with the ENDING of an era. I have been simply feeling the noise. And feeling sad. But it was a loss and I did need to energetically recognize it.

What era?

Yes - it is the end of decades. It is the end of many decades. Of learning. Of spiritual growth. Of lost love. Of pain. Of health issues. Of unrequited love. Of broken hearts. Of passion. Of travel. Of joy. Of nearly insurmountable emotional and physical turmoil. And of freedom from those problems. Of feeling trapped. Of feeling abandoned. Of dedication to scholarship. Of dedication to people, family, jobs, love, animals, children, friends. Of betrayal. Everything. Decades of everything have been here.

And I have learned new and better ways of living and loving and letting go and of receiving.

Turning 40 is closer to death. It is a quiet. It IS a loss. But like any other, it is also a gain. Until I stopped and acknowledged it, I couldn't feel it, reflect on it. And then receive what gifts I was being given.

On my actual birthday- my for reals birthday- I spent time having lunch with a friend. And then rather than having a small gathering of friends and playing games - an ice storm came and I sat alone. It was my worst case scenario. I sat there watching movies alone.

I had to be alone with myself on my birthday.

My friend, C- and I had spoken about how he was turning 40 and wanted to do a quiet meditation retreat for his 40th. And really reflect on what it meant - really listen. It was a lovely and very touching conversation. Instead of getting quiet this year - I spent it having a loud and very "celebratory" time. Doing rather than being.

I know in my heart - if I had made a quiet and reflective time planned for myself - I probably wouldn't have gotten iced in. Why? Because the ice wouldn't have stopped what I had planned.

A wise woman said to me - "What happens when the ice storms come as we sit on the paths that intersect and the only options we have are to be with ourselves? What do we do?"

Indeed- what do we do? We go inward. And we spend time listening to ourselves. We love ourselves. We accept our fears. We love the person we ARE right now. Not the person we thought we were supposed to be. Not the person other people think we should be. And - what's more - we love other people for who they are -- all the foibles and flaws as well.

Life wasn't "supposed" to be any way. It just is. Acceptance is part of this. Surrendering to the life I have now is the greatest strength I have. Only I can create new thoughts and patterns and willingness to have joy right now. This is my birthday reflection. This is what 40 looks like. I'm OK with it. I got OK with it. I'm grateful for the many voices, challenges, and support I bring me to this place.


  1. I think age distills life down to what is most important. As we get older we don't sweat the small stuff anymore. We recognize things as replaceable and people as valuable. That is one of the reasons the young are the most valuable demographic for mass marketing. We've grown too smart for them.

    Every day you are alive is one day closer to death. That was as true when you turned twenty as it was the day you turned forty. The difference is, we are wise enough to feel grateful for the new day we wake up to.

    I hope when you turn 50 (and don't say you won't because that is no way to live) you'll look back on this post and reflect on how genuine the losses you feel are but how silly they are, too. You can not be who you will be without being 20 or 30 or 40. I love who you are and am privileged to have watched some of that becoming. The 40s are wonderful in a way you could never appreciate at 20 or 30. You'll see for yourself. You haven't lost anything that is not being replaced by stuff of higher value.

    1. How I love you. How grateful I am for your words and your love and your wisdom. Thank you.

    2. I love this reflection, and what resonates with me the most personally, is the simple truth of saying "Life wasn't "supposed" to be any way. It just is." The simplest ideas are often the hardest ones to accept and trust. "Just show up" and Life will happen; it always does. Love to you on your 40th. I'm very happy to know you; you add so much richness to my life.

  2. beautiful....just like you and all the forty years of living and learning and teaching you have journeyed. Here's to the next 40!

    1. Thank you for the love along thew way Lisa!

  3. 40 does seem to be one of those look back and forward birthdays. Mine took place during what I call the Ashram Years and I decided it was time to heal my "thing" about birthdays by throwing a huge party for myself. I baked lots of pies and invited people to bring their own ice cream/rice dream. Bliss.

    The best birthday? 50! Within hours I called an older friend and announced, "This was the age I was always meant to be!" She laughed and said her fifties absolutely rocked (and yes, she had long term chronic illness). She was right.

    Meanwhile, celebrate your forties by kicking butt!

    1. Thank you Meredith. You are amazing and supportive and lovely! This IS the age I was always meant to be. I love you!