I had such a spectacular 45th birthday - I felt like this deliriously happy little kid all over again. Yes, there were yummy vegan snacks, time spent with sweetie and some pretty awesome presents. But I was also given a surprise gift that only God could have arranged.
I think of October 4, as my own personal New Year's Day. This extra special day each year when I'm given an opportunity to look back on what the past year held and look forward to the possibilities that have yet to come. I like to slow down, get still and take a few moments to forgive my Humanity and celebrate my Divinity.
It's a day balanced with both honest self-refection and self-appreciation. A chance to recognize and own the times where I painfully screwed up, fell short, lost my patience, bitched and moaned, judged people or let others down. It's also a day to celebrate the moments where I miraculously got it right, went above and beyond, took my time, laughed and let go, forgave people or said I'm sorry.
Which brings me to the surprise! Yesterday I was given one of the best gifts ever - an unexpected apology that allowed two hearts and spirits to mend an old hurt and connect more deeply.
About 10 years ago, at a gathering, I asked a young woman that had just arrived to the event: "How're you doing?" She burst into tears and yelled at me in front of the whole group of people. I was so embarrassed at the time, felt awful that I had somehow upset her and even though I had let it go - I could still feel the shame of it rise up in me randomly over the years.
Yesterday, I bumped into that same woman. She waited for a moment when we were alone and then quickly sat down at my table. She looked me in the eye, took a big breath and apologized to me. She explained that on the day I asked her that simple question - her mom had just died. She'd been so overwhelmed with grief.
She told me "you've always been so kind to me" and shared that she felt terrible about what had happened but had moved away shortly after the incident. She admitted that she'd been carrying the weight of it around with her for all these years.
I told her that I totally knew how it felt to lose your mom, that I understood her despair and her reaction. I assured her that I'd forgiven her a long time ago. I stood up, opened my arms and said give me a hug! I pulled her close, gave her a good tight squeeze and could literally feel the tension leave her body as she started to cry.
She said in hindsight, given my own mom history, I was probably the best person in the world that she could have blown up at that day. I said, "Yeah, God is super funny like that" and as we laughed - I could feel the love rush in to fill the space that shame used to occupy.
A Course in Miracles says - "The holiest of all spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love." This is the power of forgiveness.
Her act of courage inspired me so much - that I wanted to begin my 45th spin around the sun in the same way. So......
To any person that I've ever disappointed, hurt, embarrassed, picked on, talked about, betrayed, misunderstood, judged or excluded - I'm truly sorry for my unkindness and my clumsiness. I hope that you can forgive me. Please know that I made those choices out of my own Fear and was doing the best that I could at the time. I'm now committed to choosing Love - and hope to demonstrate that choice more and more each day. I'm still probably going to screw up from time to time. Please be patient with me.
To any animal that I ever ate or harmed in my ignorance, to any tiny creature that I accidentally stepped on or smashed with my car windshield, to any tick that I've flushed down the toilet or mosquito that I smacked out of pure reaction - I am truly sorry. I love you little critters and hope that you can forgive me. I was only doing what I was taught to be right at the time. I'm committed to being more mindful every day but admit that I still have a ways to go with the whole mosquito and tick thing - sorry.)
To Mother Earth - I'm sorry for anytime I was a litter bug, used Aqua Net hairspray, threw my cigarettes out the window or didn't recycle. I'm getting more educated all the time and trying to make smarter more sustainable choices. Today when I read in our local paper that our town dump is now considering recycling #5 containers - I actually did a little jig! Look how far I've come!
Thank you to each and every person who took time out of their day to wish me a Happy Birthday. I was blown away by your thoughtfulness and your love. Every sweet message that I received left me grinning ear to ear - just like that happy little kid in the red shirt!