"The intention and the action of gratitude opens to sing with thanks for the smallest of things. To hear a bird sing, to see a child laugh, to receive a friend's affection - are all invitations to practise the attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is the kind of loving thanks which touches another's heart in a place where they will allow you to reside for a long time." ~ Innerspace
I celebrated my grace-drenched life last April 9 when I turned 40 years old. I went home to Manila to be with the folks, my brothers, my nephews and our black labrador Tanya. It was a very quiet, somewhat pensive natal day, which I reckon is so unlike the 40th birthday of a lot of other people who mark this middle-age milestone. My 40th year arrived almost subtly, gingerly, as if it were timid and unsure, with no fanfare whatsoever. One minute it wasn't there and another minute I had crossed some kind of threshold.
But between you and me, I'm glad that it sort of sneaked up at me, although I will be honest enough to let you know that I was constantly at odds with my ego, that side of me that wishes for the fanfare. I was taken aback at how often my ego reared its ugly head, how relentlessly it pursued me to feel less valuable or worthy of celebration just because there wasn't any manifestation of a party, or a sort of commemoration. It was a weird feeling. But I wanted to be honest in this blog from the get-go, so I thought I'd share those feelings here.
Regardless of how antsy my ego was during my weekend trip home, it didn't come close to the warm thoughtfulness of family and friends remembering my birthday. Anyone who knows me knows how I cherish my long-held friendships, but on my birthday, I love each of them so much more. I pray you all have this kind of friends. Loving you from afar, cheering you and believing in you and praying for you and understanding you through the many years. Those who've weathered the seasons, with whom you have shared your life and heart. I think of them now and I am filled with indescribable joy for the blessing they give me. I write of them now so that they know that they've moved me so and I remain oh so very grateful.
And then there's my parents. I think if you're like me, a single, unattached 40-year old woman, there are roles that you become good at, in the absence of the roles of being wife or mother. I am sister, aunt, cousin, niece but the role I take on the most, everytime I go home, is that of daughter. At 40, I not only grow to love Mama and Papa for how they've always loved me unconditionally and with good humor, I have grown to know them as Rey and Raquel and having made their acquiantance, have grown to like them. I truly enjoy their company. We had ice cream and cake on my birthday (among many other things, covering all the basic food groups three times over!), and it was just sublime to spend time with them, watching them enjoy simple pleasures. These are the stuff of my life.
You know, I had not written an entry in this blog for a while because I went through a season of feeling conflicted. Maybe everyone who turns 40 goes through that, I don't know. Maybe it's only those who are on their own who go through it. Maybe, maybe not. I went through nights thinking about the things I had not had the opportunity to do or be, and maybe even that is for the best. Maybe I had needed to dwell on these so that I can acknowledge them, just notice them, with no judgement or malice or remorse.
Then today, I came across this quote:"To be upset over what you don't have is to waste what you do have." ~ Ken S. Keyes, Jr. So I say today, enough of grieving for what-may-have-been and what-could-have-been. And to my ego I echo what Neale Donald Walsh said: "Decide today to take the oath: I promise to 'go first' in demonstrating forgiveness, compassion, understanding, generosity, kindness, cheerfulness, positivity, and love. I decide today to go first, and to show to myself first, the thoughtfulness and kindness I crave from others, especially during my birthday. Not to be a go-getter, but a go-giver!
I started this blog around my birthday too, you know. So happy birthday to wholepizza too!
Sending you all a warm, lingering bear hug. Full-body embrace yeah, none of those fake hugs that only have your upper body touching like they do in cocktail parties and such. :)
(Photo credit: Daniel Y. Go)
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