Flowers. Glorious, vibrant, fragrant, colorful glimpses of beauty...and reminders that such things in this life can be short lived. Enjoy each moment as it blossoms to its full potential before it fades, withers, and eventually dies, its beauty only alive in the memories of those who witnessed its glory in life.
I am waxing a bit philosophical today. I am celebrating today! I am celebrating life, love, beauty, fleeting moments, cherished memories, and so much more. And I am celebrating ME! Today is my 60th birthday.
Who knew one day I would give myself permission to do something as audacious as celebrate me?
Who knew 60 would look like this, or more amazingly, feel like this?
Who knew 60 would ever even be a possibility for me? Certainly not me.
The picture above is the scene that greeted me as I arrived home from work this morning a little after 9 AM. The entire table adorned with bouquets of carefully arranged flowers, one of the bouquets sporting a brightly colored, helium bithday balloon waving gently on the breeze from the window behind it, and the floor in front of the table arrayed with gifts and a card. Yes, of course I teared up for a moment and gave thanks for just how very blessed I am today, and every day that brought me to this one.
They're All Just Steps on the Journey~
Some would say my life has been difficult, some might even say its been a nightmare and at various times throughout my life, I would have been quick to second those motions, but that was before the benefit of hindsight (which as we know, is always 20/20), that was before having a bit more life experience, and most importantly...that was before AWAKENING.
Some of my earliest memories include molestation and child sexual abuse, which continued well into my teen years.
I was a runaway at age 13, living on my own, after leaving rural Connecticut and running to get lost in the crowd in New York City and Brooklyn, NY. I never returned to live in the home of my violently abusive mother. While in New York, I was twice raped, brutalized on several occasions, but still felt safer than I was at home.
I was a teenage bride and a few months later, a teen mom, married to a raging alcoholic. Before my twenty-first birthday, I was a battered wife, mother of two beautiful children, and later that year, a widow.
Poor marital choices became my forte for many years, and I eventually birthed 7 amazing children, one whose life ended pre-term in the womb. I thought surely I could never endure such a loss, or survive it, but I did.
One husband and the father of 3 of my children was killed in a homicide, finding himself on the receiving end of a heartbroken, jealous husband's rifle.
So many more examples of loss, heartache, disapointment and struggle are flooding my mind, but I see no point in beating a dead horse or belaboring the point. Because none of this is really the point.
The point is, as unbelievable as it may seem, I never really saw myself as a victim. I never truly was a victim. But I was always, always an overcomer and a survivor. All just steps on the journey. All just part of the stairway to awakening and to myself.
I woke up this morning at 6:00 AM at the home of my client, stretched, said thank you and good morning to God and the Universe, saw the brilliant sunshine streaming through the sheer curtains of the front window and felt blessed, so excessively, extravagantly and beautifully blessed. I made it. Today is my birthday. Today, I will celebrate my life!
I made a delicious cup of coffee, shushed the cat's mournful whining for breakfast by running upstairs to feed him, then sat to work on my nursing notes and enjoy my coffee while my client slept a bit longer.
I folded my hands in Gassho meditation, recited the Reiki Ideals and felt strongly guided to ask my Higher Mind, God and the Universe if there was anyone, ANYONE from my past, that had ever hurt or wronged me in any way that I had not yet forgiven.
My mind was instantly flooded with faces, names, events and situations, but for every one that surfaced, I realized with calm assurance, that I had forgiven. That I had loosed my vice-like grip I may have once held around their throat and let them go. Not for their sake...for mine. I saw what the poison of bitter hatred and unforgiveness had done to my mother, I see it doing the same to my current client. Its agonizing to watch. It is not what my soul and I choose to co-create. So after watching this film reel play out in my mind for some time, I realized, there was not one person, not one other soul, regardless of the injury that I had hatered, bitterness, nor unforgiveness toward.
I felt free, very free...because I am. I AM.
They Key to Unlock the Prison Doors~
Either knowingly or unknowingly, at some point in my life, I made a choice to do my best not to become the victim of hatred. Not to be a slave to bitterness and unforgiveness. I did not always succeed. I spent long periods of my life with my heart and mind flooded with thoughts of hate and its usual accomplice...revenge. But I realized after some tough life lessons, the only person suffering as a result of my thought processes and sometimes less than honorable actions, was me. I was the creator of my own suffering, the architech of my own House of Glass, always just a stone away from shattering.
Clearly, there had to be a better way. A better way to live. A better way to BE.
Along the way, I've made a host of bad decisions and wrong choices. I have deeply hurt people I loved or truly cared about. I have been responsible for the disillusionment or disappointment of others. But I always had the key to unlock the prison doors. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, its been inside me all along. The key is Love and Forgiveness. That dual purpose key unlocks the most steadfast of prison doors, setting the captive free. And remaining free is a choice one can make every day, and sometimes will make, multiple times a day! Forgiveness for others and their injurious deeds is vital to recovering one's own freedom, but equally important, if not more so, is forgiveness of oneself. That can be a tough pill to swallow. But I have learned, before I can truly extend the olive branch of love, compassion, and forgiveness to others, I MUST forgive the person in the mirror. I must take my hand off my own throat and love myself in all of my imperfect humanity. Then I can look with eyes of love and compassion on those who were sources of pain in my own life and realize they were all doing the best that they could. Truly.
And each of them gave me valuable gifts, treasures I could not have acquired without the experiences we shared.
Many have asked recently how I could ever possibly feel gratitude for the people and events in my life, for the pain, heartache and tragedy. The answer, quite simply is- I couldn't always. It has been a process of searching, seeking, praying, meditating, awakening and realization that everything that has happened in my life has ultimately been for my greatest and highest good. Every person, event, situation has given me a gift....an opportunity for growth and expansion, a nudge to seek answers; to look for that better way. Each one has helped me to see who I am NOT and whom I would not choose to be given a choice. And I always have a choice. Today, I choose to be grateful. Today, I choose to celebrate life, every single blessed moment and event. I have released everyone who has ever touched my life experience to follow their path, and I pray for them the same things I would intend for myself...Love, Peace, Joy, Awakening, Prosperity and Abundance in all areas of Life.
What Lies Ahead~
I don't have a crystal ball. What I do have is the power to co-create whatever life and future I can imagine moment by moment. I can choose to live more mindfully and take the time to experience each precious moment, the big ones, the little ones, the exciting ones, and the perfectly mundane. Making the most of each one with gratitude. By following my own path, my own bliss and setting others free to do the same. And through it all, I can choose love and gratitude. I can purpose in my heart to live the Reiki Ideals to the best of my ability that day...that moment and I can practice kindness and gratitude always. The choice is mine and always has been.
Happy Birthday to me. Thanks for joining me and spending time with me. Thanks for being part of my journey. I wish you blessings on your own. I hope you celebrate Life...all of it! Namaste!