52 the 17th

Sometimes I get the wind knocked out of me.  Sometimes in a bad way and many times in a good way….
I feel like it was just a few months ago when I was wishing someone Happy Birthday on Facebook when I thought that my own birthday felt like months away. I thought that I had a lot of time to wait for my birthday and now it’s been here and gone. I don’t particularly enjoy birthdays!! As I’m scrolling my Facebook, like I do most mornings, my memories popped up pictures of my 50th Surprise Birthday party that Mike and the kids orchestrated. I remember when those pictures were posted 2 years ago and how I dissected every flaw that I could find in those pictures from how I looked, to my dress, my profile, my arms, my, my my and I really didn’t value or like those pictures at all. I guess liked some that were taken from the “right angle” and I liked the pictures of everyone else who was there, but not so much of me. There has always been “so much of me”! However, the other day was different. The evening of the party my friend Angie had videoed my daughter in love and I pulling into the driveway. She caught my reaction and surprise perfectly as I greeted my family and got hug after hug after hug. I remember scanning the crowd for the people I knew were definitely invited who didn’t show up. I didn’t see them and felt the same hurt that always came, only a bit worse. Then I realized that nothing had ever changed. I should learn to expect those things, shouldn’t I? For a minute I almost let disappointment cloud the beauty right in front of me! For a brief moment that lost kid feeling mattered, then like a weight, it was gone and then it didn’t matter! I am slowly learning that the idea of expect nothing and you are not disappointed is truth!! Now, like a medicine ball to the gut, watching that video from a grateful perspective knocked the wind out of me!! Tears of joy streamed down my face as I realized the amount of love I felt at that moment and the amount of love that it renewed within me. I could feel so much love when I saw it for what it was, rather than dissecting every single image or missing what didn’t matter. I could see it for the perfect day that it was. Then I realized that love won, again and it is documented!

From the moment I watched the video I appreciated the love that had no expectations or strings, only peace. I looked back at the faces of those I love who have since passed. I loved seeing them very much alive and smiling. I loved remembering the genuine love that they had given to me for years and years. The sadness came then because they crossed over and the only thing I keep are those memories somehow frozen in time. I am thankful for that. I carried that amazing feeling all day long! I would catch myself smiling for no particular reason and then I would associate that with these memories that I had tucked neatly away two years ago. On the daily, I don’t spike positive emotions because I seem to live with the half empty glass that only fills when I focus hard! I was genuinely so taken aback with the sheer bliss of seeing people who I cherish!! People who had taken their time to come to celebrate a day that wasn’t only for me, but truly for my family. They celebrated the coming out of some pretty dark days! Friends who had shared our journey and prayed for us, those who have stood side by side during the sadness, the loss, the surgeries, the fear and the rejoicing on the milestone of a very long and sometimes arduous journey. It was a humbling feeling. I don’t know why it has taken me 2 years to gain some more perspective about where I was at age 50 but I know where it has lead me today.

I am trying to be a better me. I fail regularly so I get back up and start over. Every single day I fall short and I am still a pessimist who is stubborn enough to push through to optimism. I don’t know if that is the manifestation of my desire to emphasize gratitude in my situations or just the hard headed Irish side of me that refuses to be my past. I’m thinking it’s the latter. I have learned more and loved more because of the very people who shared that day as well as so many other days with me regardless of my many shortcomings. I am blessed. The lesson for me, as I tell this story, is that I need to focus on the moment. I need to appreciate more as it unfolds rather than feeling unworthy of such kindness or getting caught up in the shit that doesn’t matter. I get distracted by the stress of life, work, the world, you name it. I need to appreciate pictures and big nosed profiles without being so shallow that I only see me through my critical eye. I need to say thank you more often and pay attention to moments that bring such joy, especially when they don’t last long enough. Moments like baby giggles, sunsets,the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, hugs, time with loved ones, a good book, crocheting, flowers in summer, green trees, warm sun, a cold beer, laughter……This life is the blink of an eye. Here then gone. Gratitude becomes a choice and the outcome is joy. Find the joy! Even if it takes 2 years to really, really allow yourself to feel it.

until then….find the small things.

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