I know this is a kind of strange and unpleasant image. It wasn’t exactly where I thought I’d start this post, but it’s kind of fitting.
I woke up this morning, feeling under fire, kind of like you do on a Monday morning, when the weekend has sucked up every last ounce of your time and energy. I set my alarm, said my prayers, and started making lunch for my kids. There was only a heel of bread, enough turkey for one kid, expired mayonnaise and an apple that looked good on the outside, but was turning dark in the middle. But don’t worry! After fifteen years of making lunches, these things are not a problem. It’s a simple matter of sleight of hand and a confident presentation.
But twenty minutes later, as I was cleaning up the kitchen, a lesson caught up with me. As I poured expired milk down the drain, I saw the brown center of the apple, peeking out from under the dishes. Oops! That was a #signoflove, but who’s got the time? I dumped out the cold coffee pot. It didn’t move. I turned on the water and hit the garbage disposal button, but still Love didn’t budge.
Okay. I get it.
If Love remains in the compost pile of a dirty kitchen sink, then Love remains in the compost pile of our lives. Apparently, this was a message I needed to hear.
Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 45. I looked in the mirror. I didn’t love what I saw, so I looked around and I liked that a lot better.
I saw a husband, who is also my best friend. He’s the provider of stability and sound advice, but also the purveyor of all things creative and silly.
I saw three kids, each unique in their gifts and their challenges, but unified in their love for me and each other.
I saw countless friends and family who remembered me with texts, messages, phone calls and cards.
I looked around this morning and saw that I didn’t have a birthday “day.”
I have a birthday life.
Everyday, I can wake up and celebrate.
In the predawn darkness, I have a warm body lying next to me, a heart keeping time with mine.
In the silence and stillness of the morning, I sit with God and remember I am Loved.
In the busyness of my days, I have work to do and a healthy body and mind to do it.
In the fall of the evening, I have the privileges of my life to be grateful for and the hope of getting to do it all over again tomorrow.
Amidst all those daily routines, I also have access to hot coffee and cold beer, not to mention clean water and fresh food. There are sunny skies and good people in my life who bring me laughter and conversation and full-bodied hugs, any time I need them. The Pacific Ocean is only ten minutes away and I have a car with gas in it!
Who gets to live this life?
That’s what I remembered this morning.
This life is a gift. It’s mine; it’s the only one I’ll ever get and I want to celebrate it – all of it – even the stuff I didn’t ask for.
No one gets everything they want, or keeps everything they have. I may prefer to smile, but tears have something to teach me as well, as do hard conversations and unpleasant truths. While I tend to shove those packages to the back of the pile, sometimes they’re the greatest gifts of all, because they give me the opportunity to rediscover who I am and who I want to be.
At 45, I just want to be grateful, but I’m not always.
I just want to be here, but I often fantasize about being somewhere else.
I just want to Love, but instead, I close up shop when I’m feeling lazy.
At 45, I have a birthday life, but I don’t appreciate it as much as I should.
So, that #signoflove in the dirty sink?
Yeah, thanks for that Universe, as well as everyone else who reminded me of my birthday life and helps me live it. You’re the gift that just keeps on giving and for that, I’m grateful.
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Alison..what wonderful birthday thoughts! I just turned 70 and I could not agree more with everything you said so eloquently. I have been meaning to write and thank you for introducing me to Rob Bell and to Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic!! His writings and her book have helped me immensely in supporting my grown children. Mom’s never stop thinking about and talking with and supporting and worrying about their children!! Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing. It is so appreciated and so thought provoking. Lynne Deakers
I am so glad to get your note, Lynne. I didn’t know you were a reader, but I am so glad that the series from Rob and Liz was helpful to you. They have obviously been very influential in my own creative life, but have helped me with my kids as well. Keara and Finn are both pursuing artistic path in theater and photography respectively. I love the empowering way they frame the work!
As always thanks for reminding me.
Alison, you make me cry every time I read your posts! Gratitude is an attitude … Thanks for reminding me of this! Happy year to you! You will be in my prayers!
Thank you for sharing your heart❤️❤️❤️❤️…