I was honored this past week, even today in the most wonderful ways. I happen to love people. Maybe not all people, but I am trying to actively reach out to all people, even the ones who may hurt me either by accident or on purpose. I am just like everyone else who has trepidations about extending an open hand only to get slapped with it. However, my experience is if I try to start with an open hand first, I am more often than not rewarded for my bravery. That is what it takes to reach people; it takes bravery to open up and be the first to reach out.
My birthday was Saturday and my friends and family honored the day of my birth with well wishes and thoughtful gifts. For that I am grateful beyond measure. Just to have someone or in my case many some one's take time out of their busy day to acknowledge and validate me still stuns me into silence. I wonder at times if they do it to shut me up, but I digress...
Mother's Day followed immediately after my birthday with more well wishes and more cake. I got 3 cakes total in 2 days. Did I mention I am on a diet? My kids, husband, parents and friends and my sister, who holds the current record of 11 kids, all called to wish me very happy. With my diet down the toilet, I wallowed in the love that came at me in waves. I start out every birthday feeling awkward about being the recipient. I am a giver. It's my thing. To receive is sometimes difficult for me, but a process I am always trying to improve. It is as important to receive as it is to give. It's another version of extending out my open hand.
Something wonderful happened on my birthday. I was honored meeting our waitress in the bathroom. Mike and I appreciated her consummate professional attitude and excellence in service. Her timing was impeccable. I searched the table for a comment card, finding none I used part of the envelope from a card Mike had given me, writing how much we liked our waitress and how good she was at her job. We paid our bill and headed for the restroom on our way out. I walked out of the stall meeting E. at the sinks to wash our hands. We began talking. I am not sure how it happened, but she opened up to me about her personal life and her struggles with being a single parent. I knew all about that, so as the sage I gave her the best advice I knew and told her to keep being the good mom. I told her what I tell all of my kids; you determine your worth. You teach others how to treat you. Keep your head up and continue doing the right thing and your life will turn out the way you want. I felt so honored by her trust in opening up to me. She had exposed her heart and I knew it was my only job to validate the good in her. It was my calling to see her. I was elated by the experience and smiled all the way home, feeling as if in the time she and I had spent together I was truly on the right path for my own future.
Today I went to the doctors office for a routine check up. My weight was stable, thanks in part to all the cake, I hadn't lost any as I had hoped. I got my blood pressure checked along with my pulse, both were low and healthy. I felt calm. I have been happier than I have been in some time professionally, so I was thrilled that my body was in tune with my mind and heart. Then came the next magical thing for me. My PA (physician's assistant) came in and I thanked him for the diagnosis of carpal tunnel last summer and told him about my journey writing the book. We spoke about the book and the theme which is gratitude. I wanted him to know I had left the office that day thinking of him as the person who had ended my professional life. In truth he had unlocked the life I had always wanted to live, but had been too afraid to until now. He turned out to be the key holder. I told him how grateful I was that he insisted I quit my job in order to avoid surgery. In that moment he then opened up to me about his own life and the losses he had suffered. He told me about losing his 26 year old son six years earlier and how devastated he still feels at times. His face showed all the strain of being a parent who had outlived his child. He told me how he and his wife were raising his grandchild now. He had only been 4 months old when his father had passed. I spoke to him about Dan's cancer and death when the kids were so young. We connected heart to heart in that moment. I felt him all the way to my bones. He showed me pictures of the child and I ooohed and ahhhed over the little guy. I spoke of my own children and how they were more empathetic than so many teens and 20 year olds. I told him that kids who suffer such a loss can heal through love and time enough to one day reach out to their peers when adults can't reach them. My kids are incredible human beings who span the great divide of such an exclusive club. They call it the Dead Dad Club. They are inclusive because of their loss and they remain acutely aware of others who suffer the same. At the end of the appointment we hugged. An exchange of love and admiration happened at a routine doctors visit. Once again I felt honored and privileged to be invited in to such a vulnerable state of grace. I tried my level best to take great care of the exposed heart in front of me. I was once again called to be a witness to some one's life. It wasn't about me (thank God) it was about being present in the moment and open to hearing his heart.
As I drove home from my appointment, I felt a deep calm inside my heart. I was in exactly the place I needed to be in exactly the time I needed to be there for both of us. Just as Saturday I was able to be there for E. today I was there for D. the PA. I felt a sense of gratitude for the feelings I had been entrusted with. I feel even now such joy that I had experienced such connection with people who I normally would only be exchanging pleasantries with.
Oh, and the cherry on the cake( I felt the cake referrence was necessary since I am surrounded) of my day was I reconnected with one of my dearest friends from my teen years. He was the funniest guy I knew and we attended many bad high school dances together. I have thought about him a million times since then.
Today was a good day. It was a very, very good day!