Yesterday I turned 34 years old. It was such a lovely day. I had brunch with my dear friend Marcie (we are planning a watercolor + mindful eating workshop soon--stay tuned!), took Poncho to sniff around down by the river and was treated by my mom to the most colorful, generous dinner at this stunning restaurant.
And I felt sad. Alas I have such a conflicted relationship with my birthday. I was talking with my friend Lindsey early this week about how traumatic our births are (leaving our cozy womb home for the cold world where we are smacked first thing). It's no wonder we can get the birthday blues!
(I actually recorded a whole podcast on how I get through the birthday blues. Listen here)
The truth is that for as much beauty as my life holds, there is also much sadness. I miss my dad. I worry I don't take good enough care of my dog. I get insecure. I struggle to stay in control and then realize I've wasted valuable time fighting the unfightable. I'm not always sure I am making the right choices.
I used to think that my life's work was to make my sadness go away. I would categorize this pursuit under "fighting the unfightable." Not only was my perfectionism ineffective--the sadness was still there--but pretending that I had it all figured out actually cut me off from true connection.
Now I realize that owning my sadness connects me to other people. Life is hard and we need each other's warm spirits to get through it, day by day.
For as much as I don't know, I do feel sure that connection is the most beautiful part of my life.
In this next year I want to make more space to connect with loved ones. I want to make new friends and strengthen old relationships. I want to understand my family in deeper ways. I want to tell stories, to listen from my heart space. I want to play! I want to cry while I am playing. I want to laugh through my tears and keep on playing.
I want to make much less sense and enjoy it all so much more. I want to learn more about love.
These are big goals! But they are worthy ones. I realize that accomplishing them will take focus and wisdom. I'm willing to work for them. I am ready to surrender.
What will help me the most are simple truths. As a present to myself, I've collected 34 of my favorite essential practices and one-liner bits of wisdom. They have helped me so much to navigate the majestic rushing waters of life. They will help to refocus me when I go adrift.
Perhaps they can be a good life raft for you as well.
- "Suffering that can be avoided should be avoided." --the Yoga Sutras
- I almost always feel better if I say "no" to the late night snack.
- Kundalini yoga is as magical as it is strange. It's been helping me a lot of late.
- Good, honest conversation is my favorite healing modality.
- "Family is the most important thing." --my dad
- Friends are a damn good second.
- What's good for me is actually good for everyone. It's still hard to put myself first.
- Caring for a dog is one of the hardest and most rewarding parts of my life (XOXO dear Poncho)
- "Disappointment is the feeling of getting your power handed back to you." --Matt Kahn
- Meditation actually works, if I actually do it every day (even just 5 minutes).
- Life is better with podcasts. (This next round of "Serial" was a great birthday present.)
- "When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time." --Maya Angelou
- If you want to change your life, start with your hair.
- "Unconditional confidence really means unconditional gentleness." --Pema Chodron
- Anything Pema Chodron writes is brilliant and needed and true.
- Shine Theory (women helping other women) is the way of the future.
- Reading tarot cards is the best way I've found for tapping into my intuition.
- I don't know, I don't know, I don't know
- Embracing the big "I don't know" of life is extremely liberating.
- In that spirit, I still can't figure out if coffee is good or bad for me.
- "The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature." --Julia Cameron
- Sadness, anger and fear can serve as excellent creative fuel. Sufjan Steven's brilliant latest album is an absolute testament to this.
- Living a zero waste life is so important and so hard. I mess up all the time. Yet I will continue to try.
- Going to bed early makes my life go smoother.
- This self care conversation is way deeper and more interesting than I originally thought.
- It's much easier and more fun to do transformative work in a group.
- I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.
- My desires are important. I don't need to figure out how to make them come true right away. They just need to be honored. Time will present the right action steps.
- Acting from anxiety creates a lot of mess in my life. It takes patience to wait for the right moment. I'm learning to become more patient.
- Slowing down and enjoying the moment is a true revolutionary act.
- When I slow down, I begin to feel all the feelings--mainly grief--I've been moving so fast to avoid.
- Feeling my feelings is so much easier than acting out the drama I create by not feeling my feelings.
- Once I feel them, my life opens up in such new and interesting ways. Lack of grieving = stuckness.
- Wash, rinse, repeat. This, right now, is my beautiful life. My work here is to enjoy every last bit of it.