Meditation: Calm, Relationship with Self Series: Wolves Length: 10 minutes Where: Bedroom, Los Angeles How It Felt: Hard to focus
Where to begin…
First, it’s officially my birthday month! In my 20s, I celebrated birthday months for real. Like, the whole month was full of events and surprises and parties and travel and whatever I could fit in to celebrate life! Not just for me. For my partner, too. And I always encouraged friends to celebrate themselves as much as they wanted.
I think some of that energy came from growing up with divorced parents. Very seldom did I celebrate just one day. Though my parents were really cool and mature when I was little and stayed friends for my sake (and just for basic decency- people who stay at war with their former partner and make the kids pay the price are gross), I still often had a party here, a birthday dinner there, whatever it may be, even if both parents were at the main event. I just remember birthdays as times for lots of friends, family, fun, and love. And, I was a kid, so…. presents!
When I was younger, I had the energy and to go big basically every day of a birthday month. Now I am in my 30s and doing a million things, but never ever will I be someone who doesn’t revel in the pure joy of being alive another year! I think it’s so weird when people think celebrating birthdays is silly or childish. Do you know how lucky you are to still be alive?? It’s a blessing, baby- act like it!
Plus, why not have another excuse to see all your loved ones and spend time with them? Why not take the chance to surprise your partner with something they will totally love? Why not throw yourself a party or get on a plane to Belize or treat yourself to that spa day?
Life is long, but it goes by fast!
Anyway, it’s my birthday month, and now the introspective portion of the pre-birthday routine is coming to a close, (like I ever stop being introspective, but…you know) and I’m feeling excited about the super fun parts! Especially after a year of fun in small doses… I’m ready for some big, fat, portions of it. I’m ready to see everyone and eat and drink and dance and go to shows and live life.
I don’t have the energy to make every day special like I used to… but I still have some hitch in the old giddy-up, if you will.
(And I hope you will.)
First birthday month decree: I do NOT want to do a check-in post for last month. I just don’t! I’m being lazy about it. Not much has changed since the end of May and I’m just skipping it. I’m the boss, and I say it’s fine! I’m much more excited to see what will be different at the end of July, so I’m putting it off until then.
I am so hyped lately and focusing a long time isn’t really my strong suit when I’m like this, so I’m giving myself a birthday pass. I’m still blogging! Still meditating! That’s what matters.
So, I went back to our regularly scheduled programming yesterday- the Relationship with Self Series. The “topic” was the old story of the wolves: how we have two inside of us, one dark and one good, and the one that grows strongest will be the one we feed. (See below for full story.)
I remember the first time I heard this story in an acting class in college, I loved it so much. I had gone through a lot in life at that point, I’d been fed a lot of negativity that didn’t feel right (but I didn’t know anything else), and I struggled with anxiety and depression (which I now realize was my Biopolar II). The idea that I could have control over my life by simply leaning into the positives felt so right. I doubled down on my optimism, I became determined to get to the bottom of negative feelings and pull them out by the roots, and I started becoming obsessively grateful (a practice later encouraged again after I read The Secret.)
I was raised by a mother who could hold a grudge like her life depended on it, and I’d developed a similar tendency, though not on purpose. Then and there I stopped this habit. It was a long time before I heard the quote about holding onto resentment being like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die, but I think I instinctively understood this idea around this time. I didn’t want to sit and ruminate on ugly feelings, finding blame and placing it like it was my full time job. I didn’t want to be a person who was weighed down by bitterness and anger. I didn’t want to be a person who thought constantly about revenge and what other people were thinking and saying and how to get them before they “got” me.
I didn’t want to sit in negativity.
I did not perfect any of this when I was 19 years old, but it definitely shifted something in me in a major way. It also helped to be surrounded by people with a rosier view of the world. People that life hadn’t chewed up and spit out, who didn’t need to have their guard up all the time. I quickly let go of my tendency to criticize others constantly, usually in my head. I allowed myself to just enjoy things. I focused on whatever positives I could whenever I could, until it became second nature.
Slowly, my depression became less severe when it hit and came around less often. I trusted people more and started to let them in. I rarely found myself discouraged, as I was training my mind to find the blessings and opportunities. I set my life goals high, and centered most of them around how I could help other people in big and small ways, which shifted how I did everything. It’s been a lifelong work in progress, and it always will be, but being told this story was definitely one of the defining moments that pushed me in the right direction.
I hadn’t really ever been told that I had control over my own nature. That I could shape the person I was into someone that was happier, lighter, more vulnerable, more free. I thought we were how we were.
Life is so crazy. It’s just a series of moments we usually forget surrounding a series of chance moments, large and small, that make us who we are. Taking the reins is a powerful thing. Not to be too “full circle” about it, but meditation has certainly been helping me get even more intentional with this. Slowing down, getting mindful, paying attention to what feelings and thoughts float up- you can’t just rush through the day and let life happen to you. Not when you’re practicing this stuff daily.
Anyway, in case you haven’t heard the story, I’ll post it here. So simple but so powerful. Happy July to you all- so happy summer is here!