The Miracle of Mornings

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Even though waking up early can be a struggle, I’m glad I have somewhere to go to every morning. I’m glad that I’m needed, that people are expecting me, waiting for me, and happy to see me when I arrive.

Sure, I could opt to live a life of sleeping in. Of dreaming for just a little bit longer as I clutch my dog and smell her ears for just a little bit longer. I could opt to wake when I please, without urgency, and I could make showering optional (imagine the gallons of water I’d save).

But what kind of life would that be? A cyclical drudgery. An eventual restless wandering. Even larvae live with purpose.

We are creatures of habit. Some of us thrive on routine, some of us thrive on the thrill of not knowing what’s next (though really, nobody knows what’s next). But we are all creatures of habit. So I will make my new habit this:

To rise each morning purposefully and gratefully, a willing recipient to the day’s embrace, which is in no way owed to me. To recognize the miracle of mornings. The way they kiss my cheek each day, without fail, without judgement, never wanting anything in return save for gladness, as I flutter my eyes awake.

Birthday Reflections… Year 29

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Birthday blues 

Today I am 29.

For many years, I used to feel blue on my birthday. Not because I was born the day after Christmas so that none of my friends were around to celebrate with me (“see you in a couple of weeks!”), nor because I would get one gift instead of two (this rarely happened actually). I would feel blue because my birthday, to me, used to symbolize loss.

Instead of cake and balloons and smiling for the camera, my birthday represented the walking away from a Me that would never again be. I associated my birthday with time leaving me, so that I was standing on a cliff of the unknown, like I was losing a part of myself rather than entering into a new phase of Me and who I could become.

On my 20th birthday, I wore black to “mourn” the death of my teenage years. (So dramatic, I know, but what can you expect from a 20 year old?)

My problem is that I was too focused on the past. We celebrate birthdays to celebrate life lived, yes—the anniversary of our birth, the fact of our existence, that we make a true difference in the lives of the people who love us, yes. But birthdays should also be a time for looking outward as much as inward. A time for appreciating the life in your veins, the memories you have made, and the moments that have built you—but also a time to appreciate the simple fact that you’re alive! That through all the intensities of the past year, you’re still here! You’ve made it to another starting line!

Growing older is something everyone dreads. It’s natural to fear or feel melancholy about the passing of time—something so irretrievable. And the obscure future, the unknown, “what lies ahead”, can most definitely be intimidating.

Birthdays force you to look yourself in the eyes, to acknowledge your mortality. They inadvertently cause you to reflect on where you are in life. Birthdays, not New Years Eves, ARE the horizons of a new start.

I’m not sure how many of you follow Humans of New York, but there was one post I came across some time ago that really resonated with me because it made me think: Finally! A positive perspective on turning 30. It was a photo of a young woman, who, when was asked, “What was the happiest day of your life?”, responded, “When I turned 30.” Upon being asked why she replied, “Because I felt like I had made it through all the crap.”

I thought it was interesting to perceive your birthday as an island in the middle of an ocean. A place you’ve made it to safely, rather than a place to which you’ve been thrust.

Birthdays and “The Timeline”

Do not worry about others leaving you behind. They are not going where you are headed. It is not who finished first, but who saw the most of life. ~ Dodinsky

I think one reason people become less and less ecstatic about their birthdays, especially those within the 20s and 30s range, is because of the pressure they may feel regarding “the timeline”. Whether this “timeline” is set by family or friends or society or self, this hovering elephant-shaped cloud stirs inside the hearts of many and makes people panic.

That you must be married by this age, have a child by that age, have the dream job by this age, have the degree by that age, have a home by this age, have the answers to life by that age… whatever milestones dot your timeline, birthdays seem to light a flame beneath them.

Well, to everyone feeling burdened by this nonsensical thing called “the timeline”, I say: Let go of the freakin timeline and JUST LIVE a conscious and intentional life. Stop comparing yourself to others. Life is not a race, not a competition of who’s struggle is greater or who’s accomplishment is the most refined. We all have different paths, different life circumstances, different goals and dreams and priorities and visions.

Timelines are all in the mind. Some people want to achieve specific milestones by specific birthdays and that’s okay, if that’s what they want to do, if that’s their own personal challenge and desire. But to feel pressured and to be hard on yourself if you are not where the idealistic timeline says you should be by a specific date—why? There is more than one way to live and be and grow and experience and learn.

The point of life—to my 29-year-old brain—is to never stop evolving, regardless of your pace or place in this world. Never stop expanding your heart and mind and you will continue to surprise yourself and to discover things and people that light up your life and inspire you in ways you never dreamed.

Birthdays: A Time for Gratitude

Now that I’m at the end of my 20s, my heart is swelling with GRATITUDE, not loss. Where there is life, where there is the opportunity to start anew… there is hope and much to be happy and thankful about.

I am the accumulation of all my years and experiences. I am still me. And I am still here. There is still so much I don’t know, so much out there to explore, experience, and learn and taste and see. Still so much I want to contribute and create. And funny as it may sound, I probably have friends out there, people who will impact my life in a big way, out there in the world right now, that I haven’t even met yet. How’s that for an interesting thought?

I’ve never been 29 before, so I’m excited. Terrified, slightly, yes, but definitely excited. And grateful. 🙂

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What do birthdays mean to you?

The Gift of Good Health

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Me

The human body is an amazing beast. It is beautiful and miraculous, and perfect as much as it is imperfect. The body is built to survive and endure. It is fierce, but also delicate. It is powerful, but not invincible. We forget this, sometimes, I think. We able-bodied, healthy individuals who have been blessed with the gift of good health tend to forget that our bodies work very hard to sustain us in our lifestyles. Good health is a gift. To take care of it is to appreciate it. To appreciate it is to be mindful of the way we treat our bodies.

Health really is the greatest wealth, as Virgil so wisely observed.

The human body is not an endless well into which we can throw whatever our palates or hearts desire. The human body, as I see it, is a temple. The mysterious and miraculous way in which it operates must be respected. We must nurture our bodies the way we strive to nurture our souls, and yet, it seems like we take better care of the things that we buy than our bodies that carry us through our lives. We expect it to perform, to do what it is supposed to do as we take care of our worldly and oh so vital priorities. And only when we fall ill (temporarily or not) do we realize the magnitude of the gift that is good health.

Thank you for these knees that carry me without fail       

Thank you for my heart that keeps my body well

Thank you for my sight that fills my world with hues

Thank you for my breath, for its continuous renewal

It is the nature of the human being to not fully realize or appreciate what he has until it is gone. I am fully guilty of this too. So I challenge you, and I challenge myself, to reflect on the way we treat our bodies, our trusted companions, that carry us through the years and storms and joys of life. I challenge you to reflect on your health and rethink the indulgences that burden your body’s ability to function optimally. We stress our bodies in so many ways, and because it is such a durable beast, we don’t feel the effects of the pressures we inflict on it sometimes until it is too late…

I’m not saying we have to be robots and carry tiny scales in our pockets to make sure we eat the exact portions and calories and food combinations every single time we bring something to our lips. I am the first to admit that food is one of my favorite indulgences! I love food! Food should be savored and enjoyed… we have thousands of taste buds for a reason! The bright colors and scrumptious, juicy flavors of various foods are tantalizing for a reason! But my philosophy is… Everything in moderation. Take time to figure out your philosophy and determine what is best for your body and lifestyle. Each of us has a different body with different needs.

And so I leave you with these questions. Some “food” for thought… 🙂

If we strive to take good care of our homes, our cars, our clothes, our phones, our things… why would we not do the same for our bodies?

We think twice about allowing dirt and grime and poison into our abodes… why not do the same for our bodies?

We make sure to keep our homes clean, to give our cars oil changes, to dry clean our favorite shirts, to not get water on our phones or rain on our suede shoes… why not give the same delicate care and attention to our bodies?

Stay healthy, my fellow humans! In mind, body, and spirit!

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