This blog post could go two ways.
It could either turn into a sombre reflection on the fact it’s my birthday tomorrow and my life looks nothing like I expected it to look at this age and stage. I could ramble on about how I started this blog at 40, filled with excitement and hope for the year ahead, never imagining that three years would go by and I’d still be here, writing about similar things (I’m laughing out loud as I write that!), still struggling with some of the same issues, ruminating over some of the same stuff, procrastinating over some of the same actions.
Still – yes, still – trying to work IT all out, whatever IT is! Still – yes, still – trying to find THE ANSWER – even if I’m not quite sure what the question is. Because what is it all about anyway? And why am I so determined to figure it all out, to get it right, to arrive somewhere (as I wrote in my last post), rather than to just enjoy the journey.
So instead, this post is going to go the other way. Rather than a sombre reflection on another year passing by and a critical analysis of how I got here, it’s going to be a celebration of where I am today, of everything I’ve got to be grateful for and of all the things I have to look forward to.
I’ve no doubt there’ll be plenty more ups and downs, twists and turns and unsettling bumps along the way but right now, in this moment, I feel content, happy even. I use those words rarely, always fearful that precious moment of contentment will be snatched from my grasp before I have the chance to savour it. But I’m daring to use them today – on the eve of my 43rd birthday. I’m daring to register them here, so I can look back and read them when I’m hitting those inevitable bumps in the road.
My search for happiness (if it exists – perhaps contentment is a better word, or peace) has taken me around the houses. Half-read self-help books line my shelves or are gathering dust under my bed (and if I’ve got one of yours, I’ll return it next week!). Leaflets and magazines advertising personal development workshops and courses are piled up in a corner of the living room. And if you were to examine my Internet search history, you’d discover I’ve looked up pretty much every psychological condition – along with causes, symptoms and remedies – under the sun.
Everything I’ve done, no doubt, has helped a little bit and I can’t quite put my finger on what, if anything, has made a difference in recent weeks. But I’m finding I’m waking up a lot of the time filled with excitement, hope and with a big smile on my face. And when I do wake up with anxious palpitations (which I do sometimes), I find I can ground myself much faster – with a bit of prayer, meditation and writing – and find some peace.
I’m also finding time and space a few mornings a week to stop by the local park and say hello to the deer, ducks and goats. Yes, we have a little chat in the sunshine. And I’m putting on cheesy music and dancing around my living room and kitchen (which are one and the same thing).
Oh yes, and I feel loved, really loved, which I realised as I picked up the birthday cards from my door mat this morning. I’m not loved, perhaps, in the way I wanted or expected to be at this age and stage, but I’m incredibly loved by family and friends. And I’ve learned to love, if I wasn’t quite sure how to do it before. And that’s all very special.
But at the core of it all, I guess, is a new level of acceptance. An acceptance that I am most definitely not in charge. That I can do my best, step out in faith, take steps to look after myself and courageously seek the things I would like in my life, but that trying to engineer a particular outcome – for the next years, months, weeks or even the next day – will only send my head into a spin.
Recent experience has taught me that the level of peace and contentment I feel is directly related to the degree to which I am able to surrender my life and hold my dreams loosely. It’s that peace and contentment that has me waking up filled with excitement for my day and dancing around my kitchen.
So, on the eve of another birthday, it’s all about acceptance and surrender.
Happy Birthday to me!