What would a blog be without a birthday post? I have learned so much in this past year that I’d love to share with all of you. A year ago at this time, as I was turning 37 years old, I had just undergone a liver ablation surgery and was beyond grateful that it was successful in heating up and killing the tumors in my liver. It didn’t mean that more lesions could never show up (g-d forbid), but it did mean that these looked to be dead. Once I got home from the hospital I quickly realized that my body was screaming, “enough already!” Between fertility treatments, a miscarriage, and the diagnosis of cancer, I had been put under anesthesia and had my blood taken and received enough medications to make me dizzy. You know the story. But I was afraid that if I complained, I may be punished (by g-d? The universe?) and that things may get worse.
One of the toughest things that I’ve had to battle over the past year has been my own mind. Trying to figure out a way to breathe in the gratitude and acknowledge it, while still staying true to myself and trying to believe, really believe, that it’s OK to also ask the universe for more. (Even as I write it, it’s a difficult concept for me to wrap my mind around. How can I possibly ask for more when I am alive?). I call it “magical thinking,” which I remember learning about in social work school, and now here I am, living it. Translation: If I complain or ask for more, it somehow negates the gratefulness that I have for all of the abundance in my life, and something else bad will happen.
So I fear that magical thinking may be keeping me (for now, anyway) from reaching my true potential, my true authenticity, because while I could never put into words the overwhelming feelings of joy that I have about the treatments that I have received and my doctors and the prayers and love and support in my life, there are other things that I would like to ask the universe for. It’s too scary to even put into words right now, but we all have our own secret (and not-so-secret) dreams, don’t we? I have to believe that my true potential and my true authenticity are just waiting to burst open, like the flowers that we’re all so eager to see bloom every spring. If I can give my dreams the platform to be acknowledged and brought out into the light, perhaps they can shine.
So I as turn 38, I wrap my heart around all of the love in my life, and I acknowledge that I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be at this age. And then I begin to accept that maybe it doesn’t really matter. Maybe what matters is the quality of my life, with or without the things that I thought I’d have. At the end of each day, I want to be healthy and happy. Maybe we can over complicate things too much in thinking that there is some special code for our own happiness, and it’s like a riddle that we’re always trying to figure out, without realizing that we ourselves can choose to be happy (maybe not all the time, but a lot). Or maybe we think that we’ll finally find happiness in a materialistic thing or in comparing ourselves to what everybody else seems to have, or that we can only find happiness in a child or a house or a partner or a vacation or a job. I am slowly getting to know myself in a way like never before, and allowing the concept of self-care and spiritual health to really fill me up. I also know that every day can’t be a good day; I acknowledge that this past year has been filled with some dark, scary days, and I recognize that I need to process and heal from those dark days in order to be able to lean towards the light. And light there has been, and so much of it: Being with my family and celebrating birthdays and holidays and traveling with SHL and spending quiet time with my closest friends on the beach and by the pond and snuggling with my nephew and finding feathers and making healthier shifts in my life that include making myself a priority for the very first time in my life. And letting go. Wow, letting go! If my house isn’t perfect when guests come over or if I say no to something that I just don’t feel that I can (or want to), do or if I say yes to something that I’m completely scared of and just do it anyway! Never before have I realized just how much power there is in letting go of who you think you are or who you think you have to be.
Everybody likes to celebrate (or not celebrate) their birthdays in different ways. For me, living with cancer, I will never turn down a day to celebrate my life. This year I want to recognize all that I have, and all that I can be. xoxo.