It’s a beautiful morning in the valley. The birds and chipmunks are up and noisy. I have had a fresh cappuccino delivered to me by my ever-attentive and considerate husband. I am sitting in the corner of our wrap-around porch, the sun’s rays being sifted through the willow branches and sending shafts of light onto the open page of my journal. I am mindful that it is my birthday today. That usually means that I get myself into measuring how many people remembered, who reached out to me, and what effort, if any, they may put into making my day special. Making me feel special. I’m turning 64, with the childish wishes and fantasies of an eleven-year-old.
Today, I intend to let that go. To have a different lens on the day. The weather couldn’t be more perfect, and I have my family with me. What if I were to reflect upon the past year and ponder my intentions for the year ahead. The day doesn’t need to be an event; rather, a marker of time and an opportunity to press pause, then reflect, then reset.
When I press pause this morning I can feel the breeze on my arms. I am thankful for the light blanket across my bare legs. If I listen closely, I can distinguish different birds by their songs and sounds. I can even pick up the clucking of our resident chipmunk as he waits impatiently below the bird feeder for his turn at the seeds. The sky is expanding as the blue deepens. My coffee is rich and creamy. Our small and tidy vegetable garden is a confirmation of the abundance of the earth and nature’s irrepressible insistence upon growth. I will finally witness the evolution of broccoli and brussel sprouts: from impossibly small seeds planted in a tray on the window sill in late April, to green clusters on my plate.
When I sit within the pause and begin to reflect, I am struck by the soft and neutral sense I have about the year past. A year that was anything but. For a moment, I wonder if I have mastered the art of acceptance and gratitude. Knowing full well that if that is the case, it’s fragile and fleeting. Knowing it’s a gift for today. Knowing that it’s possible. That’s enough.
I have a reminder scar from my breast to my belly button from surgery and an extended and difficult hospital stay. I recollect the out-breath of relief as we complete a successful move into a new and smaller city space, mere days before the Covid-19 lockdown. The blessings of our home beyond the city, with its endless space for distancing and invisible protection from the viral spread, is evidence of the abundance we worked so hard to attain. The tumult of fear and rage in the world seems at odds with our protective bubble. Yet I know that bubbles are fragile. They float freely and gently. And they always, sooner or later, burst. Sometimes there’s a tiny rainbow after they pop. Sometimes there’s a patch of sudsy debris. Always there’s a sigh of sadness.
And so on this day, I begin another year of my life. My reset is simple, though not easy. I am committed to living intentionally. That means to engage fully in all parts of my daily life. In the activities and in the relationships, I will be focused and present. I am determined to manage my energy so that it serves me in a healthy way. And to ensure that I have enough so that I may of service to others. I am determined to acknowledge and respect myself when my energy is low and I need a recharge. I am passionately empowering myself and others. I will not slip into avoidance and silence when words and actions are needed. I will take risks to be heard and have my needs met. I will maintain an open mind, soft eyes, kind words, and a warm heart.
At least, that is my intended experience.