Friday, March 31, 2017

Birthdays and My Dad's Legacy

I used to hate celebrating my birthdays. Every year my boyfriend and family stressed out knowing I would go through the same rant about why birthdays sucked. 

Why did they suck? It's not that I was afraid of growing older. Or, that I wanted to pretend I was still 21. To me, celebrating birthdays after 25 seemed pointless and no one felt me on this. 

The last three years before my dad died he was adamant about having a party for his birthday. And to be honest, I was irritated about organizing and preparing one. My selfishness knew no bounds and I hid my irritation without success. I remember my dad smiling, laughing, and clapping loudly in his wheelchair while we all sang Happy Birthday to him. I remember singing along, thinking, "I don't get it. But whatever..." I know, I'm a selfsih P.O.S.

A month before he passed away, when he was lucid enough to communicate, he repeatedly said he wasn't happy. We knew the end was coming. He knew it was imminent. Yet, he couldn't tell us the reason behind his unhappiness when we asked why he wasn't happy. I chalked it up to him always being unhappy. My dad was never the fun-loving, laughing, full-of-life kind of human being. 

Expressing his unhappiness meant he was being himself. I interpreted it as "I'm not happy I'm dying and leaving mom in your inadequate hands." Our lives were consumed with making sure he was comfortable while he was in and out of the hospital that we never had time to delve into why he was unhappy. I mean, he was dying, who would be happy?

This year, when my birthday month loomed ahead, I couldn't contain my excitement. While my boyfriend was heading on his monthlong Philippines adventure my birthday month promised 30 days of silence and solitude. I scheduled and planned every day of March before he left for the Philippines. 

On this last day of March I look back and thank my dad for his legacy. I finally got it---the reason why he celebrated his birthday in full effect. He knew he didn't have long to live. My dad knew that every year that passed meant he was closer to leaving us. 

To my family's surprise I asked them to help me celebrate my 49th birthday this year. Actually, shock accurately described their reaction. 

I wanted to celebrate every single day of my birthday month. I wanted to do things I normally wouldn't do. I wanted to spend my actual birthday without hearing or dealing with adult matters. I finally understood why LIFE should be celebrated and lived as if every day were an adventure. 

Watching my dad die did that. And it's still a mystery to me why some of us wait for a loss or tragedy to finally see the beauty in celebrating life in all its messy glory. I'm grateful for this second chance to live my life in appreciation for the gift that it is. As I celebrate my last year in my fourth decade I can say it's already a great one as I unapologetically live it according to what makes ME happy. 

I mean, why waste precious time doing things that make us unhappy? Why lie on your deathbed telling your loved ones about your unhappiness? 

Below are some pictures from my thirty days of silence, solitude, self love and self care. My boyfriend is back home but I intend to continue the momentum of what my birthday month manifested. It sounds cliché but happiness is my choice. No one holds that power but me. And every day in the middle of the messiness I choose H A P P Y. 

Live life while you have it.
Life is a splendid gift-there 
is nothing small about it.
~Florence Nightingale

I started my birthday month
seeing Gabby Bernstein live
at Wanderlust, Hollywood. 

Spent some much-needed time
with my seester whose birthday
happens to be a week from mine.

These creative kids helped me celebrate my
no-adult-no-adulting birthday. Their
photography inspires me to
get out of my comfort zone. 

My rolldog, Crystal. She introduced me
to the Detour app and we did a walking tour
of L.A.
The birthplace of Noir. 

The Bradbury Building. The last stop
in The Birthplace of Noir

I've always wanted to go check out wineries and
see what all this wine tasting was about.
So I asked my fave familia to help me. 

My mom, my spawns and Grandkid #1
celebrating my birthday at Steelcraft in Long Beach. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Double Reflections

I don't want to miss your birthday, he said. 

My boyfriend was coordinating his schedule to return to the Philippines for a month and it happened to be my birthday month. I gazed at him across the table with wide eyes. 

GO! Are you kidding me? GOOOOO!, I almost screeched in the restaurant. 

It wasn't as if he was "abandoning" me on my special day. I saw it as a gift! A gift of what I started calling on Twitter as, "my 30 days of silence and solitude." Eight days into it and it has been a beautiful present. 

Days before he left he joked that I wasn't going to miss him being that I scheduled my entire month solid less than 24 hours after he booked his trip. It's not that I don't miss him. I've NEVER had 30 days to myself! 

That's 30 days to practice self-love and self care. It's the intention I set for 2017. No interruptions during my morning meditation. No T.V. noise as soon as I wake up. I could unplug from the idiocy that is called the U.S. president. 

There was no hesitation in buying a ticket for the event when an email in my inbox listed Gabby Bernstein's speaking schedule and one of them was in Hollywood on March 5th! Her books sustained me last year during my dad's sickness and death. I did her meditations and practiced mindfulness. I don't think I would have survived those months without her guidance. 

I woke up on Sunday morning with barely contained excitement. After meditating, praying, and writing in my journal I knew it was going to be a good day. There was barely any rain and by the time I reached Wanderlust Hollywood it was a beautiful afternoon in L.A. 

There were mostly women in line with me waiting to get into the venue. While I stood there listening to the conversations around me I realized Gabby has touched and inspired us all in different ways. We were all seeking truth into breaking free from fear, accepting ourselves with love, healing from our brokenness. 

For me, Gabby opened my eyes to a God bigger than I ever knew. An infinite source of love, healing and power. She's no prophet but a messenger. I'm not new to the "choose love over fear" mindset because the Bible encourages us to do so. But Gabby's books delivered it in such a way that it embedded itself deep into my heart. It wasn't just a concept but a way of life. 

Her talk on Sunday afternoon was on Undoing The Ego. The dratted ego in all of us who sabotages our mental and spiritual progress

She guides us to
  1. Expose the Ego and be aware of it. 
  2. Choose again. Choose differently when our thoughts and actions are not aligned with peace. We pray, "I choose to see peace instead."
  3. Give it away. Let it go, basically. Pray and ask for our thoughts to be reorganized or taken away.
  4. Get aligned. Success always comes with ease and we should ask ourselves, "how aligned I am with God?" This new alignment creates a new reality because vibes speak louder than words. Move into a place of appreciation. 
  5. Joy increases our chances for success. Success is about being. Be authentic, appreciative, joyful. "Be so lit up by the work." 
  6. Instead of running from our shame, acknowledge it. Witness it. 
Last year when I read her book, Spirit Junkie, I learned to acknowledge my feelings instead of numbing myself which I'm an expert in. Her book came at the right time as it was during the months my dad was in and out of the hospital before he died. 

The biggest takeaway I had Sunday night was when a woman stood up to ask Gabby a question. In a wavering voice, on the verge of tears, this woman spoke about her husband who was not supportive in her work. She felt unsupported and unappreciated. What Gabby said to her made the entire room gasp. 

"He's mirroring back to you what you believe in yourself."  

Isn't that a difficult concept to swallow? Immediately the ego throws its hands in the air in defense. 

It's not the first time I've heard it as there are quotes in different variations that teaches this. The woman admitted she was plagued with self-doubt when it came to her work. 


How do I apply that to my own life? I've had to ask myself when a certain person bugs the HELL out of me what is he/she mirroring back to me that I believe in myself? If you tell the ego to get lost and are open to the truth you'll be surprised at what you discover. 

I had a friend who was constantly talking mad trash about others in her life. So much so that it was because of her that I decided to have a "No-adult-no-adulting birthday." The hours I spent having dinner with her was tainted by my irritation at what she "vented" about. It's not that I didn't understand what she was going through in her home life, I just didn't want to spend hours dwelling on it. 

When I got home that night I caught myself in my acute irritation. I asked myself, "What is she mirroring to me that I believe in myself?It wasn't long before I received my answer. I was just as judgmental as she was and gossiped just as badly. Which made me delve deep inside myself to find out why I felt the need to talk trash and gossip. 

And so begins my birthday month. My 49th birthday will be here in 5 days and I know it takes work every day to make progress. 

I'm savoring every moment of every day of my 30 days of silence and solitude. My goal is to be a different person when Ray comes home. A better, enlightened version of me.

Thank you, Gabby Bernstein, for your message. May you always inspire with love and light.