Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Making a Birthday Happy

Birthdays have always been a big deal for me. I happen to love special attention although I try not to expect a lot. A heart felt acknowledgment of my placement in life means a lot to me. Extravagant gifts or big parties are not a must. I also don't expect gifts or cards. You see, I have been down the road of birthday expectations and have been disappointed when the people I know love and care for me, might forget.

So, here's how I deal with that question of making a birthday happy these days. I aim to not put the value of the day on someone elses shoulders, or give them the responsibility of making it a happy day. It is my intention to find the happy within me, not outside me. How I manage that is by taking stock of who I am, what I have learned in the past year and where I am headed. I focus on loving me unconditionally. I also celebrate by doing the same number of abdominal crunches as my age. You see, these are all gifts and they all fit. Having access to make myself feel good is liberating....and I like that very much.

So where does that leave the loved ones in my life? When I manage to stay in that place of no expectation, then anything that happens or comes my way for my birthday is a surprise.... and I love surprises.

Today is that day of happy-making, birthday celebrating for me. So far, I have had a leisurely day in rainy Minnesota preparing to co-lead a workshop this evening. I have done my meditation, journaling, 2 1/2 miles on the treadmill and 56 crunches. I have been surprised by a mysterious singer of Happy Birthday on my cell phone, a couple of fun emails and a sweet card from a good friend. I already feel full....so anything else that happens will be icing on the cake.....not that I expect a cake.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Oak Tree Perspective

I am writing this post in Albert Lea, Minnesota. I'm here to co-lead three workshops with my colleague, David Larson. David and his wife Carol are wonderful hosts. They live in a lovely home on a hill overlooking Fountain Lake. I visit here several times a year and stay in a guest room facing the water.

Just outside my window is a huge sprawling oak tree that must have been extending its roots for over a century. There are numerous other trees that surround the house, set on a hill creating a beautiful view of the lake below. The setting creates a feel of being in a tree house. Just for fun, I imagined if this oak tree outside my window could speak, what would it say? What would be its perspective of the world? It would have witnessed many changes over the years ....how has it dealt with it all?

Certainly the environment has changed significantly over the past century. The area gradually grew with homes being built over the years. What was once wilderness is now a thriving community. Residents of nearby homes come and go. The community has grown in population. The issues of the world have been many. Weather has sometimes been serene and at other times stormy.

Obviously this beautiful massive Oak has survived all of the changes. It has not only survived, but has grown over time. Although the world around this tree has changed, what the tree is, has not. In fact, the more it witnesses and lives through in this world, the stronger it gets. In spite of the changes that surround it, one thing remains the same. The Oak is still an oak. It is still beautiful, graceful and strong as it has always been. I imagine if this tree would speak, it would say "Just be. The changes around you do not determine who you are".

So, I am going to borrow this perspective from the Great Oak outside my window. I choose to stay strong in who I am, regardless of the changes, sunshine or storms, that go on around me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Hidden Blessings

I spent the entire day yesterday traveling. My well planned itinerary looked perfect on paper as well as in my mind. I was traveling from Wellsboro to Minneapolis. I've made this trip many times, mostly without incident or delays. Yesterday was different.

Now perhaps I had something to do with this unexpected turn of events. When I awoke, I said a prayer of gratitude for this trip I was to take and asked for some joyful adventures to fill my day. Although being stuck on the ground (in the plane) due to fog for an extended time, which caused me to miss my connecting flight in Philadelphia, and then more delays in Philadelphia and eventual re-routing via a different airline in another terminal of the airport, and lost luggage, I did have a day filled with adventure and blessings.

The adventures had to do with some of the logistic and physical maneuvering required of me to negotiate an alternative plan. I was eventually successful in finding a way to get me to my destination. The hidden blessings throughout the day turned out to be people I met along the way.

I have made it a practice to accept "what is" and look for something to appreciate in every situation. Although there are times, I cannot find a single thing to be grateful for, yesterday was a day that I had great success. In doing this, I typically seek to create conversation with other people. Airplanes and airports are the perfect setting for creating conversation with interesting people. I find if I can get interested in someone else, I tend to forget about whatever it was that was bothering me. Each step of the trip, I was able to make some lovely connections.

So although my day did not go as planned via my mind or my printed itinerary, it was definitely filled with many adventures and blessings. The blessing for which I am most grateful is that the day of mishaps did not affect my ability to be joyful.