My birthday was earlier this week - Thursday. I love birthdays. Mine for certain, but mostly I just love the idea of celebrating the day someone came to be here and celebrating who that person is. I also love presents and cake and attention.
For a number of reasons, this year was not offering strong possibilities for any of those things.
We're on a tight budget. I'm on a sugar fast. I don't have a classroom or a workplace where attention is guaranteed.
This was also not a landmark birthday - two more years before the next one of those, thank God! Fifty-eight is not a number that excites me, although I do like the eight in it. And Thursday is not a day that speaks celebration necessarily.
I actually woke up Thursday and was in the kitchen before I remembered it was my birthday.
Here is how the day unfolded:
Walt honored the no-gift mandate, but made two cards of photographs - one of Toby and Emma and one taken of us on vacation this summer. And wrote sweet loving messages as he always does. And kissed me good morning in a way he hasn't for quite some time. And cheerfully sent me into a full day that didn't include him at all.
My middle brother Mark called as I was getting ready for class. We had a fun and satisfying chat at the end of which he told me he had written a blog post for me. The light of love in his words is so bright, I have to close my eyes from time to time to really be able to absorb it.
Carrie made sure everyone in class knew it was my birthday, led the singing, treated me to lunch and a sweet card and a gift. A lunch that was shared with a new friend who feels like a very old friend. During class an unexpected connection was made with a fellow student that has the potential to become much more.
For the first time in all our years together my time with my counselor fell on this day. It was a session full of celebration of all the gifts this year has brought already - gifts completely unconnected to my original goals. A stronger connection to Walt. A more peaceful home. A quiet but amazingly strong confidence and trust and faith in the face of lots of information suggesting I should be feeling otherwise.
From there it was coffee with a friend who started this path of seeking the light a little later than I did, and whose loving energy feels like a warm day out of season.
The day's grand finale was dinner and attending an author presentation with three friends - two of whom are brand new friends to me. We were an eclectic group, two attorneys, a doctor, and a writer. Laughing together about the fact that with all our collective education and ability we couldn't figure out the GPS on the loaner car we were in. Laughing at ourselves looking for row "G" and being told by a patient woman that the "G" stood for general seating. Laughing hysterically on our way home at our imitations of the author whose trademark "WooHoo!" and (to us) over-simplified recipe for achieving abundance were off-putting.
And finally home, to cards and phone messages and a husband happy to see me.
So, there were presents. There was even a cupcake from my counselor, which Walt enjoyed tremendously. I got lots of attention.
However, what I got this year that I've never felt before was the full experience of being loved. I know I've been loved, but growing up with love that always had a price attached made me wary. And the warier I got, the more I protected my heart from the pain of love withheld, the less I could feel. I felt loved every single minute of this amazing birthday. So loved in fact I was almost overwhelmed with it. I think, though, I will get used to this new feeling. It will become my new standard, as Carrie suggested. My heart likes her new freedom.
Who knows what magic and power will grow from the fertile ground of a heart finally fully loved?
photo from Flickr