I celebrated my birthday yesterday. I turned 44. And while it was “my day,” it was also one day in a string of many that have included a flurry of graduation celebrations (two of my kids graduated and are attending new schools in the fall), the birthday of my “baby” who turned eight, organizing a trip for seven to Europe, and launching a new part of my business. All glorious things which are the fruits of the creating the life I love — fruits which bring love, as well as stress and responsibilities.
Last night, when I came home in between dropping my teenager at her graaduation party, changing clothes, grabbing the “presents” and heading back to the Pacific Palisades for dinner with my dad, his wife, my step-sister, boyfriend and kids, I walked into the kitchen to find an array of incredible flower arrangements and a package of chocolate covered strawberries — all sent to me by incredible friends, clients and coworkers. “Holy Wow,” I thought, almost in tears.
How many years had I only “wished” someone, just even one person, would send me flowers, unappreciative of what I had received or too numb to even notice.
How many years had I built up expectations of what a birthday celebration “should” look like, imagining how my kids were supposed to act? Frustrated by my former husband and lovers, thinking the plans they made should be better, or different. Often times I settled, often times I was living in a fantasy, and other times I was simply so disconnected I spent most of the day lost in my thoughts, trapped in my head.
The point is this: I was never present. I never felt connected to myself, my heart or the people I was spending time with. I was always “wanting,” feeling longing and the frustration of my discontent.
This year, I was able to be truly present for each moment, choosing to be in moments of gratitude, even when I was running back and forth from Los Angeles to Brentwood and back to the Pacific Palisades, using up nearly one tank of gas in a day! I made a choice to put the “to-do list aside, have lunch with my family, put the “shoulds” aside and give in to celebrating each and every moment — even though for many of them I didn’t feel very much like the “birthday girl!”
So, what does it take to get to this point? A place in which there is joy, peace and calm even when life has bumps, is frenetic, and I feel somewhat out of control.
What occurred “behind the scenes” since I first divorced my husband after 17 of marriage in 2004? How many tears were shed? How many “bathroom floor” moments, (referring to the moment Elizabeth Gilbert describes as the one in which she became sick and tired of feeling sick and tired in her novel, “Eat, Pray, Love) did it take for me to surrender, to stop blaming the world and take responsibility for my life, happiness, and relationships?
I remember the moment exactly.
I was one year post-divorce, and had just been “dumped” by the man I thought was the love of my life after a traumatic 11 month relationship. He had cheated on me, telling me I was too old and had too many children, even though just months before he had declared I was the love of his life. I felt like I was a horrid mother, a terrible friend, and a failure. I was convinced I was f’*&#’d up beyond repair. I was taking medication and miserable.
Driving home from therapy, tears rolling down my face, I had to pull over. I had just launched into the type of crying kids do; the crying that paralyzes you, the crying in which you are unable to breath and begin to snort, gasping for breath.
It was then, during this moment, that I realized I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I decided I would do ANYTHING to be free of the pain, self-doubt, lack of confidence, hurt and despair.
I wanted to take back control of my life, break free of my romantic rut, and begin to BE the person I knew was buried deep inside.
I came home, jumped online, and searched for a possible solution. It was there that I found a $4,000 10-day retreat that literally changed the trajectory of my life forever. I made payments. I used a credit card. I changed plans, asked my ex-husband to watch the kids. I did what I had to do to make it work.
Fast forward 4 years later and I am experiencing a life I never dreamed could be possible. My partner is gorgeous, attentive, loving, passionate, and adores me. I feel safe. Loved and cherished. My children wrote me letters in celebration of my birthday yesterday telling me the values I have taught them, and how much they feel loved and heard by me. My father and I have an incredible relationship. My mother died 18 months ago of lung cancer, and I had no regrets or anger towards her. I was able to love and be there for her until the end. The relationship I have with my brother improves every day, and I no longer feel like I have to be the person he thinks I should be. I have friends who give, receive, and express their love through words, phone calls, hugs and laughter. My business is growing. I feel full, nourished and whole.
Most importantly Dignity Daters, I did not get here alone. I had a supportive therapist, an array of talented coaches who helped me with my career, parenting, and my business. I invested in workshops, retreats and seminars and made sacrifices to afford each and every one of them. I went to school. I worked hard. And from each investment I made I have walked away saying the value of these experiences have been truly priceless.
Why? Because I have my life. A life I love. And now I have you.
I want to give you this opportunity for transformation July 9-11 during my Relationship Readiness Rejuvenation Retreat. I am doing this because I believe in you, in possibility and creating the life you love. I am doing this because miracles don’t happen in Starbucks, unless you are ready the world through with new eyes.
Choose for you. YOU deserve it.