Saturday, July 1, 2017

Reflections On My Birthday

Sixty-eight is a pretty uneventful birthday. I'm on my way to seventy, but just hanging out in my late sixties. My husband, who knows me so well, gave me a card with a picture of this beautiful sheep on it that said, "There's you, and then there's everybody else." He also gave me this beautiful (purple) Pandora butterfly bead. This is the first year I have accepted bling into my life (because I never thought of myself as a bling kinda gal), and I LOVE butterflies. I AM a butterfly inside. I love my husband, and am so blessed to have him in my life.
Us on Lake Murray, SC

Last weekend I took an art retreat that allowed me to see how far I've come in my quest to "find myself". My mother always asked me, "Kathleen, when are you going to find yourself?" "Soon, Ma," was always my reply. She knew herself so well and, as far as I knew, fully accepted herself just as she was. I never did. I followed all the philosophies that dictated, "Be a good girl", "Be all you can be", "Be the best you can be", or "You'll pass in a crowd". This last quote was my mother's favorite. I grew up in a Catholic family and attended parochial school during my elementary years. I loved God, believed everything the priests and nuns told me, and followed all the rules. I learned to sing the Mass in Latin, and took Communion every Sunday, Holy Day of Obligation and on my birthday. I never expressed opinions and did as everyone expected. I began to question this lifestyle at age seventeen, and started my quest the following year in earnest.

My 35th Birthay
I was always hung up because as I got older, I resembled my mother like I was her "Mini-Me". I strongly resembled all the Manning women: Ma, Aunt Jean and Gummy (pictured here). I knew I was born into a family of strong women, but I didn't learn or appreciate the full extent of my mother's strength until after she was gone. "Now I get it, Ma. I'm sorry." I miss my mother so much today. I am very surprised in fact that this post is about her. She was sick with breast cancer when she was my age. I am very healthy, and am so grateful for it.

So, what have I learned during this long quest of self-discovery? I learned what I always knew, but could not accept and lost the strength and courage to live: 1) that I am loved, 2) that I love with all my heart, 3) that my heart bleeds, 4) that I live in that bleeding heart love with compassion for everyone and every thing (butterflies included), and 4) that I am grounded in the School of Unconditional Love and Foregiveness as Jesus taught. I love my Self, and accept my Self as is. I am blessed, and I am very, very grateful for all my blessings. I don't take even one of them for granted. I try to show appreciation whenever the opportunity arises. My word is my bond, and I hold Honor in my heart. I trust and can be trusted, but I am a realist.

I understand that not everyone has worked through their own fear. I have learned to create boundaries to protect my heart and my body when reality dictates the necessity. I don't look for, ask for, or knowingly put my Self in danger or seemingly dangerous situations. If somehow I stumble there, I trust God will protect me. I believe that. I will continue to have adventures and take risks because I know in those I keep growing. I believe I am stronger than my body, and have more power than physical reality dictates. I believe I am an Energy Being; a Spirit who lives forever, and that I will see all my loved ones again some day. I sometimes just miss their earthly faces. I am Light, Love and Joy personified, and I will no longer knowingly let fear ground my Spirit.

Once these words connoted the label, "Hippie". I was that too, albeit a late bloomer. I still am; I just don't flaunt it much anymore. I pick and choose when to be whoever and whatever I feel like expressing. I am exploring my different talents and learning to let my creative juices flow once more. Thank goodness I now have a grandson to help my inner child continue to thrive and play. I have "Peter Pan Syndrome": part of me will NEVER grow up.

My handsome Son and his beautiful Wife.
I feel very happy today. I am proud of myself for choosing happiness as a lifestyle. I am also proud to have chosen good health as one too. I have lost twenty-three pounds so far and counting. I think I'll go shopping today and buy something that fits well. Thank you for all the birthday wishes that have begun to come in and for being in my life. I am grateful for all my wonderful and quirky family, friends and other blessings. Lastly, I want to thank my parents for giving birth to Me. "You did a great job, Ma and Dad. I know life was hard, but know that I never "let 'em shut it off or take it away". I love and miss you dearly. Peace.
My Sibs and Cousins at Echo Bridge