Gifts and Gratitude

I woke up the other morning feeling grateful that the intense storms forming so many tornados managed to miss Atlanta. Once the electricity went out I was wondering if I’d wake up in the middle of the night scrambling to get my pets in to a bathtub with me and some pillows. After seeing the devastation and hearing about so many lives lost really made me feel blessed to still be here.

A month ago yesterday I celebrated my birthday in Italy.  I was concerned by the number at first. It was the first time an actual number made me worry about getting older. A friend of a friend asked if my going to Italy for a month was some kind of “mid life crisis.”  I laughed when I heard that as I wouldn’t consider an art sabbatical a crisis OR that I was mid-life. But I did wonder how old you have to be to be considered mid-life?? I guess that depends on when you die, right? Well, in any case, I was making a dream come true for myself, not having some kind of a panic attack about my life. All I know is that since my birthday, a month has passed and I feel like I’ve really made the most of it so far with my personal new year. Each day is a gift and I am pleased about where I am and what I’m doing and the positive changes that I’m making. I can’t help but embrace my age. It’s actually pretty awesome. I’ve worked hard to get here and I’m alive and well. I know myself better than ever before, which is perhaps the best feeling. Of course working hard, seeing results and feeling gratitude for everything certainly helps put things in perspective.

Homemade by Italian chefs just for me 🙂 It was just as delish as it looks!

I’ve had some pretty awesome birthday celebrations over the years. I don’t know why some people don’t like to celebrate but I understand it’s a mortality acknowledgement. I met with someone the other day who is from Greece and she said that the Greeks don’t celebrate their real birth dates. They celebrate their names! So each day is dedicated to a different name. I find that lovely. It’s not about the numbers… it’s about who you are. And I am ALWAYS up for celebrating. Why not!? One of my friends was a bartender a couple of years ago and would tease me that every time I went in to the bar I would announce something I was celebrating.  That was sometimes several times a week. But it was true! I have many things to be thankful for so I am always celebrating. I keep a gratitude journal and it always reminds me how abundant my life is with blessings. I write about it a lot and while not everything is always great, and in fact I’ve had a lot to heal from, I can always find things I’m thankful for and celebrate.

I'm pretty sure my friends didn't realize they set my birthday celebration up at a gay bar. We're still not sure...

Italy was a special place to celebrate my latest birthday and one I’ll never forget. I’m actually still celebrating with friends. I’ve received some very thoughtful gifts… a few of my favorites have been the purple orchid plant (which seems to be the only flower my cat doesn’t seem interested in chewing on, so I’m very pleased about that because orchids are my VERY favorite flowers.) Another favorite birthday gift was from a friend at the villa who arranged for Agostino, a professional masseuse from the near by spa who came out to the villa. Magico! One of my other favorite gifts was a beautiful bracelet from Naples brought to me by one of my dear guests on her honeymoon! And there are such other lovely gifts too that I’ve received and I love every single one of them. My journal, other bracelets, flowers, cards, wonderful meals, champagne, books, etc. How blessed I am to be remembered and celebrated! Thank you to my dear, sweet, generous friends!!!

The bar owner gave me a kiwi for my birthday after I was serenaded by a very drunk patron named Lucca (yikes)

And if that wasn’t enough… Oh happy day! FedEx delivered my goodies shipped from Italia including the yummy vino. Perfecto!

These weren’t the only gifts from Italy. Not by any means. The biggest gifts were in my moments of solitude. And in struggles. And lessons. Ultimately, these things are blessings and are still arriving every day. Each day I’m figuring out more and more and I can attribute that to many things… but I believe my time away really helped bring so much of it to fruition.

Waking up to the sweet flowers & note from my friends on my bday

I am making a private list in my journal about the many gifts that have come to me.

And in a few days I’ll be starting the ‘29 Gifts’ . I’ve already been practicing this in my life, but this will be more of an everyday consciousness. The premise is how a month of giving can change your life.  I’m sure I’ll be posting a few journal entries about this coming up.

“Healing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but through our interactions with other people. By giving, you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life.

Giving of any kind is taking a positive action that begins the process of change. It will shift your energy for life.”

-Mbali Creazzo (from 29 Gifts)

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