Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

I believe in stretching my birthday celebrations out for as long as possible.  When I was a little kid, of course that meant more cake and more presents.  These days I don’t need more cake and gifts, just time to enjoy with friends.  But okay…I do love the cake and gifts just the same.

On this birthday I received some of the most precious gifts of all.  The day started out with lots  of lovely sunny weather, and I took the opportunity to meditate on all the things I’m grateful for in my life.  I even said a prayer to my Mother who passed away when I was only five, and I said “Thanks Mom, for having me.”

Then a friend took me out for a little shopping and lunch, followed by numerous calls and visits from others to wish me happy birthday.  My home was filled with gorgeous spring flowers from our condo’s gardens and I enjoyed every minute of this.

Another friend called to ask about taking me to lunch and I had to say that I was already going out, but would love to do lunch some other time, if we could figure the calendar space.  She then gave me one of the best gifts and said, “There’s always space for you in our lives.”  Her words touched my heart so deeply and I thought to  myself, That’s exactly what I wanted for my birthday!!!!  To know that I matter and have connection with my loved ones is THE ultimate gift and blessing.

In these times of being busy, attached to our electronic devices, working long hours and attention taken completely over by other commitments, sometimes we forget to tend our friendships.  I’ve forgotten birthdays or missed opportunities to reach out or realized that I was not tuning into a friend’s needs.  I’ve also felt that sense of being forgotten when folks have been busy with their life commitments.  We can fall into these common pitfalls and patterns of busy-ness lifestyle.  So the gift of hearing those words “There’s always space for you in our lives” was absolutely amazing.

As if this was not enough, the gifts kept coming.  In the past several months I have found myself part of a group of lovely women, who are all students and friends of mine.  After almost six months of classes with me, we seemed to be in the process of forming a loose coven.  I say loose because I’m not into forming rigid structures or teaching dogma of Earth-based spirituality, preferring rather to give students the flexibility and space to explore as much or as little as they want.  This particular group of them has continued to stretch their branches to reach for the sky.  And now, to our delight and surprise we have a group that wants to continue and explore the spiritual practices together.

I knew they were hatching a little plot to celebrate my birthday, and it was not a surprise that they emailed me to say they were taking me out to dinner and there would be some sort of after dinner destination to be revealed later.  So we gathered at a lovely local Indian restaurant, and had a fabulous dinner.  Then it was time to head off to destination B which I accurately guessed was the Burlington Earth Clock on the waterfront of Lake Champlain.  This is a lovely stone circle set up by a local group that created this modern day stone circle on public land for people to enjoy and use.   The ring was set up by dowsers and planners who aligned the circle to the energies of the land and the solstices.  I’ve been in the ancient sites, and I was skeptical about this new version, but when I had the opportunity to go there with Glenn and Cameron Broughton this winter, I was surprised by its energy.  From time to time various celebrations and ceremonies to honor the Earth have been held there and this  has been attracting deeper connection with the land.  So for me it feels like a very young Stonehenge.

When my little women friends said they had a destination B in mind, I finally said, “oh, are we going to the Earth Clock?”  (That’s what happens when you try to keep secrets from a psychic.)  So we headed down to the waterfront and realized that none of them knew where this circle was located.  It was truly the blind leading the blind, and there was a lot of giggling going on about that one.  Plan C was improvised and they commandeered a picnic table at the nearby park to have a little ceremony and cake.  What followed was a second lovely birthday gift.

First, my girls lit some lovely incense, then a little candle.  All were beginning to giggle about all the various actions and choreography that was supposed to happen.  This was their first ceremony without my guidance.  Two of my girls stood before me with tree branches for what was described as a blessing of the branches for my birthday.  There were some lovely words of blessing spoken with silly dramatic emphasis; first by the Larch branch, then with the Maple branch which we weren’t exactly sure was really a maple.  Much more giggling ensued and I wasn’t sure if I was about to be flogged or blessed, but to my relief, just gentle tapping of the head and face with the branches occurred.  Then the singing of the birthday song, with tom-tom, harmony, rhythm and uproarious laughter.  We were all ready to either wet ourselves or burst open.  The laughter kept up through the presentation of gifts and the consumption of delicious cake, and I’m sure that passersby thought we were all drunk.  None of us were intoxicated by anything stronger than the joy of celebration.  The gift of sharing laughter and silliness is awesome!

Those were the best gifts I could have had.  I have to say that the items I was given this year are wonderful too, and I do love to give and receive gifts.  But the very best gifts really are the love and caring, and uproarious, raucous joy shared with others.

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My birthday approaches, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m about to turn forty-five.  It’s a rather astonishing number to me, and I’m not quite sure how I got here.

A friend recently remarked that I look more like thirty-five, and I’m just vain enough to say that was flattering.  She went on to say that I act more like I’m eighteen.  I responded by saying that I probably do act more like eighteen now than when I actually was eighteen.  It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the mental and emotional state of being.

We have a vast range of mental and emotional states that shift from day to day, or even minute by minute.  I recall spending my late-teenage through twenty-something years feeling terrified, depressed, overwhelmed and unhappy.  Those feelings were really the themes of my life at that time, and I’m so grateful to say that I grew out of that.  I grew up, and grew into myself.  It was not until I hit my early thirties that I really truly began to look at myself from the inside out.  On the surface I really did not like what I thought I knew about myself; and unfortunately through the experience of an alcoholic family and many other interpersonal issues, I had learned more about how not to love myself.  It took me a very long time to learn how to practice unconditional love on myself.

It’s really easier to love others — those who love and support me are the best.  It’s easy to love externally, much easier than loving the inside.  So I went to therapy, went for the self help books, went to church to find something, and went to friends to find confirmation or affirmation.  All of those things were helpful and I slowly moved forward.

Then one day I was on the phone with a friend, and as we closed the conversation, she said “I love you.”  Before I even realized it, I said “Well, I love me too.”  My friend laughed uproariously and said that’s what I want to hear.  I thought “Wow, I really do love myself.”  I felt some arrival had happened or a sense of accomplishment had been achieved.  It was a “light bulb moment” for me.

Now, many years later I find myself with another gift of love.  As I reflect and contemplate upon my birthday, and all the years that came before, and what could be in the years to come, I’m so grateful for all of the growth, gifts and blessings.  I am surrounded by people who are sharing the gift of witnessing our lives together.  I’m so blessed with friends, loved ones, students, colleagues in the arts and healing fields and people with whom I exchange moments of deep connection.  These are the best gifts and make my life richer.  I do believe that everything I experience from others, is a reflection of that which I am.

So when I go hang out with my friend Martha and she feeds me great food and we break out in silly songs or fits of giggles like we are teenagers again, that’s me and that’s her.  That’s the spontaneous joy that I let loose with once in a while.  When I meet a fellow artist like Barbara Evans of Crystal Wings Healing Art, who has an amazing way of using art and healing to help people and the planet, I’m so inspired.  But I realize that as inspired as I feel, someone else can find that inspiration through me too.  When my Guide Dog, Parker nuzzles me and throws himself joyfully into my lap, how can I not feel the unconditional love from this being?  And so he teaches me that this is what he sees in me.

Forty-five is just a number, but I get to look around at my life and see these amazing reflections of myself.  Another friend has a great thought about birthdays, he says that birthdays are the completion of another trip around the sun.  I have a rich and beautiful life and I love traveling around the sun on this our dear planet Earth, with all of the beings on it.  What better gift can you have than to see yourself reflected back in your friend’s joy and laughter?

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