2020-06-07 09:40:28

I might be crying as I write this. For a number of reasons – the first being it’s my favorite time of day – a quiet, windy morning and I am overlooking my lanai watching the trees blow in the wind. I am watching my cats curiously examine the outside environment while my husband sleeps peacefully in our bed. I’ve just done my morning meditation and moved on to writing. But today is different. Today is my birthday and I turn 35.

Thirty-five feels like a milestone birthday though I’m not sure it’s one of the normal ones – 18, 21, 30, 40. Maybe it’s a personal milestone. Maybe it feels different for me because I’m different. Maybe it’s because of all the intense heaviness in the world right now. I’ll be honest I almost didn’t feel right celebrating my birthday this year – which is saying a lot coming from a gemini who looks forward to this day more than anything else! 

The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery have created a revolution here in the U.S. – one that’s been a longtime coming, and one that unsurprisingly has bought out the best and the worst in people. On one hand I’ve felt inspiring by seeing many friends start talking about their opinions publicly, speaking out against systemic racism and police brutality, and finally taking a stand. I have been able to contribute by writing statements for work and helping create a social media plan on how we can weave social justice into our culture. On the other, I’ve been affected by the deafening silence of others. I’ve even been attacked myself for things I choose to post, people who have made me out to be anti-police, making up their own stories and choosing to talk about me behind my back, as well as receiving some hateful messages on Instagram. Of course this isn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last, that I am sure of. It’s become so clear to me that so many white people are just incapable of looking at their internal biases and how they contribute to white supremacy and how it is acted out in the world.

In addition to this, we are currently living through a pandemic, one that just kept us home for 3 months. One that two of the most important people in my life – my husband and my sister – are affected by, having to be on the frontlines treating sick people and putting themselves at a higher risk. 

Knowing all of this, having a birthday didn’t feel very important this year, but I do know it still is. If being a gemini has taught me anything, it’s that I am a living paradox who can embrace her duality. I can be angry and compassionate. I can feel grief and find joy. I can be soft and strong. I can be a leader and still need help. I can be all things and I can be nothing. 

What I’ve known and what I’ve most taken away from this moment is that it’s not about us. I urge people to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking of the collective. Just because something isn’t your experience, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And those of us who know that a life of service for others is something we are already guided towards, take action. This is not the time we chose, but this is the time that chose us.

So, I might be feeling old today, closer to 40 than to 30, but what I am truly grateful for is everything that I’ve experienced in life that has brought me to this point. I feel incredibly lucky to be celebrating another birthday, to be here, present and alive, and sober for it all. 

The principles of recovery have taught how to navigate this – how to not take things personally, how to think of others instead of myself, how to be grateful for every moment, and how to take action when no action seems like enough.

Here’s to 35 – another year of messy, imperfection navigating all that life chooses to throw at me with hope and grace. Today I am giving myself permission to celebrate me.

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