Today is my birthday and I am 42 years old. Many women my age hate celebrating their birthdays. But not me. I love my birthday and it always feel so special.
A few years ago, and after many a boring birthdays at work, I made a deal with myself: 1.
- Never go to work on my birthday, and
- Always do something fun!
Today I am on top of Mount Bachelor overlooking the majestic peaks of Bend, Oregon. The mountains are breathtaking, covered in snow, and standing there with such certainty. The wind is so powerful that the snow is blowing sideways. But I don’t mind the intensity of the wind or snow. There is a palpable energy in the air. This is where I feel the most alive.
Maybe I also love my birthday because I selfishly love the attention. I am getting tons of text messages, Facebook posts, and all sorts of lovely notes from my family, friends, and even people with whom I hardly speak! It’s such an incredible day where I feel celebrated. There is so much love present. A palpable energy in my heart.
Today I got some very meaningful messages that just stopped me in my tracks. A local artist posted, “You are a world changer!” My musician friend said, “You are a gem. Thanks for all that you do in our community!” One of my donors shared, “I admire you and think highly of your accomplishments!”
I work as the Executive Director of a nonprofit arts organization. These people are my colleagues, my constituents, and my supporters. I work with them on a variety projects in the community and we have a good relationship.
Yet as much as I love their kindness, I don’t know myself to be the person that they see. Yes, I know I am passionate and I work hard to contribute to my community. But I feel like I’m surviving and not thriving in my life. I get stuck in the day-to-day and don’t see the bigger picture of my work or of who I am to people and the community.
So when I hear their words, I am moved to tears. World changer?! Is that really me?! She’s tucked away somewhere, underneath all of the insecurities and false stories she’s collected over the years.
I know mine is an old story. It’s the one of a little five-year old girl who felt scared and unsafe watching her parents fight. A little girl who longed to be loved and wanted to love, but she couldn’t really find it for herself. Someone who wandered through life being quiet, trying to hide, not looking people in the eyes, and feeling lonely and alone.
I let go of all of the pain, insecurities, and old views of myself. I hold that little girl in tight and let her know she is ok. She doesn’t have to protect herself anymore. I let my shoulders relax and my breath deepen.
I soak in all of the good energy around me. I allow it to penetrate the barrier I had created. I accept all who I am and all who I am not. I allow myself to accept love and open up to that person they see me to be.
Yes, I am here. Hello again, dear friend!
I realize that my friends and family had been reflecting back exactly who I am, even when I didn’t see it. They are my mirror. Their view of me allows me to be the fullest expression of myself.
So today, my birthday, I celebrate myself! All who I am and all that I contribute.
I am accomplished. I make a difference. I am a world changer.
With the snow falling and wind howling, I stand up with certainty and clarity. I meet myself on top of the mountain. I celebrate the energy of my life.