It's my birthday today, dear ones.
And I want to thank you.
Serving you, connecting with you, being inspired by you and the ways you show up in the world each day are a few of the reasons why this year, notwithstanding great pain, grief and loss, has also been one of the most remarkable in my life.
You have taught me so much about what it means to live well in the world. And because birthdays inspire us to give presents, I'd like to share with you a few nuggets of wisdom I have learned along the way that may inspire you to live more mindfully and authentically in your own life.
Call it a gift of birthday presence.
Greeks have always been lovers of wisdom, as we all know. More importantly, each and everyone of us can tap into that place of inner wisdom with a little practice, no matter where we come from or where we are going.
And now, in no particular order, a few things I have learned on my journeys around the sun:
- The antidote to loneliness is authentic connection.
- With great power comes great responsibility.
- Yogurt with fat in it is better than yogurt with chemicals.
- The Golden Rule always applies. Always.
- To have scars means you have survived. Wear them proudly.
- The word religion comes from the latin, religio, meaning "to bind together". When we are together, we are stronger. This has nothing to do with dogma, it is simple fact.
- To be a lover of wisdom means one is a philosopher, not some stuffy shirt in an ivory tower. I'm a philosopher and hope everyone else is, too.
- To love means to take a stand.
- Technology is not the boss of you. You are the boss of it. Don't forget that you control the POWER button. Use it!
- The most precious gift you can ever give to your child or another human being is to love yourself.
- Taking small, sustainable actions consistently over time is how your life changes. Anybody who tells you anything else is underestimating your intelligence and the power of the ego.
- Whenever you walk into a new situation or group of people, pre-empt the ego mind's habitual thinking of separation and division by forcing yourself to ask the question, "How am I like these people?" not, "How am I different?"
- Eat breakfast.
- Be kind to everyone on the way up. They might be the ones to cushion your landing on the way down.
- One conscious breath can be as transformative as a year on a meditation retreat in the Himalayas. Do not underestimate the power of the sacred pause.
- Go to Greece at least once in your life and get in touch with your own inner philosopher.
- To intentionally abuse another is harmful. To neglect another is just as harmful. Be present to your loved ones.
- Remember where you came from.
- Exercise every day - and that means a single yoga pose or 5 minutes stretching counts. Honor your temple because it helps you serve others.
- Clean up your stuff with your mother, whether she is alive or has passed. It is the most gut-wrenching and rewarding work I have ever done. Get support, do what you have to do, but do it.
- Tell your partner what you appreciate about her or him. Tell your friends and co-workers what you appreciate about them, too. Do you get enough appreciation? They don't either. Be generous with your gifts of esteem to others.
- Tell the truth. The one from deep, deep down in your bones. Not the one that is convenient. The one you don't want to tell. That is the truth that will set you free.
- Express gratitude for what you have. And for what you don't.
- Attachment is the source of all suffering.
- You exercise your physical muscles to help you continue to move, be flexible and strong. You exercise your spiritual muscles so that you can be still and know.
- Cherish your friends. They are your family of choice and need to hear it once in a while.
- Spend the first hour or more of your day in some form of centering practice. Read, write, pray, meditate, do yoga, take your dog for a walk. Cultivate your being this way so that your doing in the world is more skillful and serene.
- Give what you have. Teach what you know. Share what you want the most.
- Pick up the phone and call someone. Tell him or her you've been thinking of her and just wanted to say hi for no reason.
- Make eye contact and smile. If you've ever been sad or depressed, you know the power of a single smile from another human being.
- When there is chaos inside of you, look to the cosmos for answers. The stars and galaxies and planets that have been in place for billions of years might put your problems in perspective.
- A wrinkle, stretch mark, or belly is not a sign that you are a failure. Nor does a six-pack mean you are a success. What you do with your equipment is what determines your joy, fulfillment and contentment in life.
- It is an act of humility to acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses without apology.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Learn to honor the law of cause and effect: karma. Virtuous actions have virtuous effects. Harmful actions have harmful effects.
- Go to bed early.
- Let your freak flag fly one in a while. There is nothing more beautiful than authenticity.
- When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut, the editor in chief of Time Magazine and a fashion designer. I even planned to design an astronaut's costume made of marble and lined with creamy, ivory silk shantung. It just goes to show you that some dreams make it and some don't. Move on.
- Circumstances can make you bitter. Or they can make you better. Choose your response accordingly.
- The best anti-depressant is a walk in nature. Use it often and preventatively.
- Loving relationships require the risk of being known. Intimacy requires risk. Vulnerability requires risk. Creativity requires risk. Tune to your internal GPS (Guiding Principles) for guidance on increasing your tolerance for risk. No risk? No reward.
- Your true nature is love. Everything else is conditioning which can be released. A dirty rag wrapped around a beautiful gold nugget does not change its fundamental nature.
- Wear strappy heels while you can. You'll thank me for this.
- I once met a man who was being yelled at by a group of people in a hot, summertime parking lot. He had left his dog inside the car for a moment to go into the laundromat to pick up his clothes. There was no handicapped parking space available and the people yelling at him weren't interested to know that not only did he have special needs, but that he was also newly homeless. I followed him into the laundromat to see if he was ok after being publicly flogged for his transgression of leaving the poor dog in the hot car for a few moments. The look on his face - of gratitude for the compassion and mercy being shown to him - has never left my mind. Compassion is always, always, always the sane response to another human beings shortcomings. Including our own.
It's been a pleasure serving you, dear reader.
I can't wait for what the next revolution around the sun will hold for us all.
Now I'd love to hear from you: what do you find inspiring and hope to bring forth on your next revolution around the sun? Let me know in the comments below.