No matter where I am in the world, I seem to power down in the winter months. It’s my pattern and I honor it.
There’s something magic about coming out of hibernation from the winter. The sun is out, flowers return, people are outside playing…everything feels more alive.
Being a March baby, spring emerges right around my birthday. In recent years, I’ve taken to looking inwards for the better part of this special day. I take a modified version of the Circle Day, described in Geshe Michael Roach’s The Diamond Cutter.
My extroverted friends eye me suspiciously when I say, “I just want some time to myself, to honor how I’ve grown this year and acknowledge where I am now.” Their response is, “But what about the cake? The celebration???” To this I bring up the “birthday festival,” a term coined by a good friend of mine. The festival begins when the first person wishes you happy birthday, and continues until the last person says it. I have my cake and parties, just spaced out along the week (or month!) of my birthday. This allows me to savor each moment of the celebration.
So from the ashes of the past year, this intentional reflection for part of my birthday allows me to emerge anew, kind of like Daenerys Targaryen when she comes out of the fire unscathed and holding magical baby dragons. Only I don’t have any baby dragons.
Dragon lady went into the fire with a belief that she would not be burned. Call her crazy, (and fictional, okay, I know), but I think she had so much courage. And like her, I needed courage too.
This year on my birthday, I confronted disappointments and grieved the loss of “what wasn’t.” I had expectations for where I would be in life that had not been met. I also lost my last living grandparent in February, which hit me harder than I expected. In sitting with that dissonance, of what has been and what “could have” been–in my life and in his–I felt a lot of grief and fear.
Tuning into my own heartbeat, I eventually acknowledged that I am the source of my own life. My life is exactly as it is because I myself have made choices to lead me to this exact moment. I decided that I didn’t have to understand the grief to take responsibility for it.
I encourage you to try this. Just sit for five minutes and allow yourself to feel grief – Is there anything in your life that you wish had turned out differently? And how do you feel given that your expectations were not met? This is not about thinking about the grief, but rather about feeling the result of that thought. Where do you feel it in your body?
Not working for you? Maybe you’re still thinking. Focusing mentally on “what isn’t” keeps me stuck. Does it keep you stuck, too?
If so, take some deep breaths and try these on:
I don’t know why I feel upset, but I do.
I don’t know why I feel upset, but I do, and I have created or attracted it.
I don’t know why I feel upset, but I do, and it has nothing to do with who I really am.
When I take responsibility, the sharpness of the grief and fear soften, and I feel lighter.
Truly, the only real work worth doing is restoring my own heart. And wow, in the last year, my heart has been moved in ways I could have never imagined!
Conclusion? It’s okay to open my eyes instead of getting stuck on “what isn’t.”
All the other stuff about life seems feel easier when I am at peace inside. I see things differently. I experience life differently…I turn a walk through an urban area into a nature walk. (Hope you enjoyed the photos of the flowers!)
Here’s to honoring where we are, right now.
MAKE IT REAL:
Get quiet. Feel the grief in your life over “what isn’t.” Acknowledge yourself for having the courage to do this, and see where it takes you. Remember, this is not about thinking. Seek not solutions, but peace that allows you to be a clearer you, one that can approach life with more ease.